DAVAO CITY, Philippines – With low enrolment and problems in the distance learning program in public schools, ACT Teachers Party-list France Castro challenged Education Secretary Leonor Briones to demonstrate how this can be done in poor communities all over the country.
“We challenge Secretary Briones to demonstrate the different learning modalities in less fortunate areas herself so that the education department will see how their policies would be implemented on the ground and see the consequences on quality and accessibility of education,” Castro said in a statement on Wednesday.
The progressive solon said that “forcing” schools to adopt the blended learning program in response to the Covid-19 pandemic poses problems to schools that lack in adequate facilities, materials, and personnel.
“(This) will ultimately sacrifice accessibility and quality education,” Castro said.
ACT noted that three weeks since the Department of Education announced the enrolment for this schools year, only 48% from last year’s students have enrolled. DepEd announced it will open this school year on August.
But Castro said DepEd’s back to school program “is anti-poor”.
“The education department assumes that all students are capable of teaching themselves at home using printed, soft copies or online versions of their modules. It assumes that all students have parents that can help them learn their lessons.”
As the government insists on pushing through with the opening of the next school year, Rep. Castro said that the DepEd should first ensure that “quality and accessibility of education will not be sacrificed” and “no child shall be left behind.”
“What’s the point of insisting to open classes in August when most students, especially those who come from the poorest families, don’t have access to quality education?” the lawmaker asks.
Aside from Castro, the Alliance of Concerned Teachers, also criticized Briones for not providing an “enabling environment” for the safety of teachers and personnel who went back to schools to prepare for the next school year.
The group demanded DepEd to provide health screening to teachers and personnel, mass testing on suspected cases, provide safe and accessible transportation, sanitation and disinfection facilities, PPEs and hygiene kits for teachers, laptop and internet allowance for teachers to implement distance learning, and medical funds in case of treatment for Covid-19.
“The unsympathetic and undemocratic response of our officials to the struggles of ordinary employees must be challenged, especially as it threatens our lives and that of our families and communities. We will not stand for the way this government bargains our health and committed servitude to the nation,” said Raymond Basilio, ACT secretary general. (davaotoday.com)