Dismayed over the further reduction of the number of participating schools in the pilot run of limited face-to-face classes set to start next month, a group of education workers on Wednesday, Oct. 20, urged the government to focus on building the confidence of stakeholders.
The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Philippines noted that the steady decline in target of the Department of the Education (DepEd) may “very well lead to never reopening schools.”
Initially, ACT said that DepEd proposed the inclusion of about 1,000 schools in the pilot run then it was reduced to around 500. As agreed upon by the Department of Health (DOH), 120 schools will be included in the pilot face-to-face classes.
“While it’s unfortunate that the already conservative target of 120 schools upon its approval was further reduced to a mere 30, it is understandable that many are still scared and unprepared to try out physical classes amid the pandemic,” said ACT Secretary General Raymond Basilio.
Basilio lamented that nearly two years into this pandemic, the “government has not implemented sound responses to the health crisis and only instilled fear through its militarist lockdown, while leaving us to die either by COVID-19 or hunger.”
He added that local government units (LGUs) are also “understandably feeling overwhelmed” with their duties as they bore the brunt of the pandemic without “ample resource support” coming from the national government.
Given this, ACT pressed the government to “build confidence” instead among stakeholders by addressing their valid concerns.
“We cannot keep sliding back on the progress we’ve made so far in the fight for safe school reopening,” Basilio said.
With the country now in its second year of implementing distance learning, ACT said millions of students, parents and teachers have been struggling just to ensure that education will continue.
“DepEd owes it to them to keep pushing forward,” Basilio said. Thus, he noted that the agency needs to be “more aggressive” in demanding bigger funding and support from the current administration to ensure the safe reopening of schools.