‘Duterte’ variant is a bigger threat to education sector — group

Published August 27, 2021, 4:31 PM

by Merlina Hernando-Malipot

President Duterte (Malacañang photo)

A teachers’ group on Friday, Aug. 27, said that the “Duterte” variant — pertaining to President Duterte — is the bigger threat to the education sector amidst the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) situation in the country.

“Hindi po Delta variant ang nakakatakot, Duterte variant po ang nakakatakot para sa sektor ng edukasyon (It is not the Delta variant that is scary, the Duterte variant that is scary for the education sector),” Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Secretary General Raymond Basilio during the the launch of the group’s “Bantay Balik-Eskwela Hotline.”

During the virtual press briefing, ACT noted that they have “yet to hear” of the Duterte government’s report on how it is “addressing the multitude of issues” raised by teachers, parents, and students as regards the safety, accessibility, and quality of education amid the pandemic.

Bantay Balik-Eskwela Hotline launch (Screenshot from ACT )

ACT added that the Department of Education (DepEd) has neither released an “honest and comprehensive” assessment of the last school year.

Basilio said that with less than a month before the opening of a new school year on Sept. 13, “we want to know right now what the Duterte government is doing to resolve recurring issues in education.”

These issues, he said, include limited to no internet connectivity; lack of enough gadgets for teachers and students; poor quality and lacking modules; and overwhelming workload of both teachers and students; and the “continuing blanket imposition” of distance learning even in low risk areas where it is most inaccessible.

With these issues still unaddressed, ACT cited the need to “gradually and safely” reopen schools — especially in far-flung rural areas — where the “benefits of in-classroom learning far outweigh the low risks of an outbreak, especially with sufficient protective measures.”

“The Philippines is 7th in the world with the longest school closure, while neighboring countries with comparative situations have reopened as [of] mid-2020,” ACT claimed.

Given this, the group asked the Duterte administration to present a “concrete plan” on how to safely resume limited face-to-face classes.

“How much longer does the President plan on denying our students access to quality education?” Basilio said, noting that it has been over a year since the pandemic started but the schools have remained closed.

“Limited in-classroom instruction can be done amid the pandemic as proven by successful experiences of other countries, even DepEd pushed for the same,” Basilio said.

“We only need ample planning, preparation, and resources, but is Duterte even looking into that? Has he even considered the cost of continuing school closure to our youth?” he added.


DepEd says face-to-face classes remain a 'possibility'