The Department of Education (DepEd) was urged to take into consideration the plight of teachers as it prepares for the opening of a new school year amid the ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) situation in the country.
For the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT), before the opening of school year (SY) 2021-2022 is finalized, the DepEd should focus on the challenges faced by teachers – noting that their condition will also affect the delivery of education services and learning continuity amid the pandemic.
DepEd said that it is currently preparing for the opening of the upcoming school year by coming up with “various options” that the President can choose from. Among these recommendations include a possible opening of classes in August or September.
The group on Friday, May 7, criticized DepEd for being “insensitive” to the plight and welfare of teachers under the distance learning set-up currently implemented this school year.
ACT Secretary General Raymond Basilio called out DepEd Undersecretary Diosdado San Antonio in particular for saying that taking long breaks would not help especially the country has a lot of catching up to do when it comes to achieving quality education.
“It is very insensitive of the DepEd to treat our teachers like tireless machines or beasts of burden that it can just whip to action,” Basilio lamented. “Hindi tamad ang ating mga guro, kaya humihiling sila ng sapat na pahinga, mga tao silang nagkakasakit na sa bigat ng gawain at tagal ng pagpapa-trabaho (Our teachers are not lazy, they are asking for enough rest, they are people who are getting sick from the weight of work and the extended work hours),” he added.
‘Burnout’ among teachers
In March, the group conducted an online survey to assess the labor situation of education front liners in the first half of the current school year.
Results of the nationwide online survey conducted among 6,731 public school teachers from March 29 to April 11 showed more than “70 percent of teacher-respondents deem the distance learning workload as negatively impacting on their physical and mental health” with about “10 percent admitting to already falling ill due to the problems with distance learning and their burdensome duties.”
Basilio also pointed out that Philippines is lagging behind in international assessments “is hardly the fault of public school teachers who have actually bore the brunt of the government’s neglect of education.”
For the group, no amount of extended class days can remedy the lack of teaching and learning resources and the “faultiness” of the curriculum.
To address this, ACT urged the DepEd and the Duterte government to first have “an honest-to-goodness assessment of how they provided for the needs of education and how the distance learning was designed and prepared if they really want our performance to improve.”