Detached from reality? Group asks DepEd to ‘survey’ its COVID-19 situation

Published April 21, 2021, 11:18 PM

by Merlina Hernando-Malipot

Instead of its tasking field officials to collect details of members of other organizations, a teachers’ group on Wednesday, April 21, urged the Department of Education (DepEd) to “look into its own” coronavirus disease (COVID-19) situation and help its personnel might providing medical and financial assistance.

The Teachers’ Dignity Coalition (TDC), a 30,000-strong group, asked DepEd to conduct a survey on the agency’s own COVID-19 situation – particularly those who contracted the disease.  

TDC national chairperson Benjo Basas said that one of the proposals of the group is for the DepEd management to help teachers who are currently “struggling with the medical, financial and psycho-social effects of the pandemic.” 

“Our teachers are now going through enormous challenges, from lack of learning modules, excessive workload, and financial difficulties, aggravated by the rise in COVID-19 cases in their communities,” Basas said. “What they really need now is a caring DepEd leadership, human compassion that could make things more bearable,” he added.

The group also added that the DepEd’s recent prioritization of the week-long YouTube seminar, the order to adopt the four sets of new uniforms, and profiling members of the two vocal teachers’ organizations are “proofs that the agency has detached itself from the everyday realities confronting their teachers during this situation of pandemic.”  

Amid the surge in the COVID-19 cases in the country, the TDC formally asked the DepEd to provide the data on COVID-19 situation in the entire department – as other agencies and local government units are doing.

“We need to be informed on the extent of COVID-19 infection in the DepEd,” Basas said.

In particular, Basas said that DepEd needs to release information on how many teachers and employees have so far tested positive – including the active cases, as well as the total number of those who died of the disease.

Other details, such as to what can these infections be attributed and what will be the available forms of assistance for these teachers and personnel, should also be released by the agency.

“Will the DepEd be at all providing financial or medical assistance to the patients or their families?” Basas asked. “How is the DepEd planning to deal with the field officials who are violating the DepEd prohibitions on physical reporting under its alternative work arrangement rules?” he added.

Basas also pressed the agency to give an update on what actions have been taken so far against officials who violated its own rules which resulted in infections as in the case of Zambales? “These are valid questions that demand prompt and honest answers, yet our queries are left unanswered,” he added.

Last week, DepEd instructed its local officials to make an inventory of the members of TDC and the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) – a move that was heavily opposed and criticized by both groups.

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“Instead of tasking field officials to collect details of members of teachers’ organizations, the DepEd would do better to conduct the more relevant survey of teachers infected with the dreaded COVID-19 in view of providing them much needed assistance,” said Basas.

Despite the assurance coming from DepEd officials that “there will be no individual profiling” of the members and such directive was part of the “standard requirement” for organizations that deal with the government, TDC continued to question the agency’s primary intention.

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TDC also questioned the method, and the timing of the order which was done thru Google forms, Facebook messages and phone calls from field officials “without coordinating with their leadership or officially communicating with their office.”

 
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