‘Talk to us’: Teachers ask DepEd for dialogue on ‘real’ situation under distance learning

Published February 19, 2021, 4:52 PM

by Merlina Hernando-Malipot

If the Department of Education (DepEd) were really serious to address the challenges under distance learning, they should listen to the education frontliners – the teachers.

This is the appeal of Teachers’ Dignity Coalition (TDC), a 30,000-strong group, to the agency amid reports in adjusting the school calendar which will result in an extended school year.

“Again, we are asking the DepEd leadership be open to dialogue so that the leaders can see the actual situation on the ground by hearing the actual experiences of teachers,” TDC National Chairperson Benjo Basas said in Filipino.

The TDC noted that the previous statements coming from DepEd show a “disconnect” from what is really happening at the school level. “These prove that the leaders of the Central Office are not immersed in the reality of the public school system,” the group said.

Through a dialogue, TDC is hoping to show DepEd, under the leadership of Education Secretary Leonor Briones and other and senior department officials, the “real situation” of teachers and students under this distance learning system.

TDC has also expressed opposition to the plan of DepEd to extend the current school year which, in effect, will shorten the two-month “summer” vacation.

Basas said that the work of teachers has not really been reduced under distance learning. “In fact, it has even increased due to increased dependence on technology and clerical tasks,” he added.

If there will be a shorter break, Basas expressed concern that teachers may not be able to complete their work. “Worse, our teachers will not really be able to rest,” he said.  

Meanwhile, TDC said that the plan of DepEd came as a surprise to teachers. Citing data from DepEd that “99.37 percent of students completed the requirements in the first quarter” and with the agency giving an “80 percent rating” on the implementation of the distance learning system, Basas asked, “why do they still need to extend?”

Basas explained that even if DepEd were to extend the school year, it will be “meaningless” as long as there is shortage of modules, lack of access to technology, limited time or ability of parents to help children, and the low interest of students.

Given this, TDC reiterated its appeal to DepEd to consult the teachers. “We are ready to work with DepEd so that the agency can implement a plan based on real situations and existing problems,” Basas ended.