Problems in access to distance learning modalities, lacking education materials, and poor state of school facilities unfit for the conduct of face-to-face classes still persist after the first half of School Year (SY) 2020 – 2021.
These issues were revealed by the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Philippines on Tuesday, May 11, based on the results of the survey conducted to assess the implementation of the Department of Education’s (DepEd) distance learning program.
The group conducted a nationwide online survey among public school teachers from March 29 to April 11.
The survey gathered responses from 6,731 public school teachers from kindergarten to senior high school levels – with 5,303 respondents coming from the National Capital Region (NCR) and 1,428 from all the other 16 regions.
Issues on access, quality remain persistent
Citing the result of the online survey, ACT noted that 95 percent of teachers from NCR and 81 percent from other regions reported that their students “continue to face problems with the cost of gadgets and internet connectivity.”
Of which, ACT said that 48 percent and 53 percent of the respondents, respectively, also indicated that at least 30 percent of their students have “difficulties financing the demands” of distance learning.
ACT Secretary Raymond Basilio said that majority of students – particularly in public schools – come from low-income households or those most hit in the economic recession brought about by the pandemic.
“Some belong in homes that house two to three families, with only one or two gadgets shared by multiple learners – many lost their source/s of income,” Basilio said.
“The government is essentially forcing these families to choose between putting food on the table and ensuring their children’s education, as they reel from the various effects of a bungled pandemic handling,” Basilio added.
ACT said that teacher-respondents also reported that their students are “lagging behind in lessons.” Based on the survey, 95 percent of those from NCR and 86 percent from other regions admitted that portions of their classes lag behind, while 24 percent and 29 percent, respectively said that 30 percent or more have difficulties keeping up.
ACT noted that teachers are also “behind their lesson schedules” as reported by 27 percent of respondents from NCR and 43 percent from other regions – with percent and 34 percent respectively delayed by as much as one to two weeks.
Lack of printed modules
The survey showed that the most employed learning modality remains to be the printed modular learning as indicated by 50 percent of teacher-respondents from NCR and 87 percent from other regions.
However, ACT found out that the available modules for the first and second grading were “incomplete” as pointed out by 32 percent of NCR teachers and 23 percent of teachers from other regions.
Basilio said that halfway into the school year, “we’re still significantly short of the most basic requisite of distance learning—printed modules.” He alleged that major factors to this are the delayed production of learning materials from the DepEd Central Office and the insufficient funds for module printing.
“This is a great disservice to millions of learners who are shortchanged in education, and to teachers as well who have been exhausting their means to fill in these shortages,” he added.
Unfit for in-classroom learning
While there is a growing clamor for the resumption of face-to-face classes, ACT said that “schools remain unsafe due to perennially unaddressed shortages in infrastructure.” In its survey, ACT said that 83 percent of NCR respondents and 72 percent from other regions answered that they have “insufficient to no school nurse at all.”
Meanwhile, the group added that about 50 percent of the respondents nationwide indicated that their classrooms have poor ventilation while 42 percent from NCR and 52 percent from other regions also noted that their schools do not have enough comfort rooms. ACT added that 31 percent and 41 percent, respectively, said they have “insufficient or lacking water supply” in their schools.
“These perennial shortages in education pose bigger problems now than before the pandemic,” Basilio added.