/ 3 August 2020

REACTING to a recent survey conducted by the Department of Education saying that majority of parents preferred modular learning for their children in the coming school year, the Alliance of Concerned Teachers said this only means there is lack of ‘meaningful and viable’ choices in the agency’s learning continuity plan.

Partial results of the agency’s survey showed that 8.8 million parent-respondents prefer the modular learning system for the coming school year.

“While it has its own challenges, the online synchronous learning mode has the most potential to warrant true learning among students with the present circumstances, as it allows regular interaction and feedbacking with teachers. Despite this, the government did nothing to enhance connectivity and establish the needed infrastructure to implement an effective distance learning program. Hence, parents had no choice but to rely on the most basic modality and also the most arduous for them,” explained Raymond Basilio, the group’s secretary general.

ACT noted that the recent survey results also attest to the inaccessibility of online mode of learning for ordinary Filipino families, thereby debunking Education Secretary Leonor Briones’ claim of its viability merely on the basis that the number of cellphones in the country surpasses the population.

“This is just another proof that DepEd is completely out-of-touch with the realities of Filipinos. The education agency and the rest of the Duterte administration need to admit the truth: the Phil-ippines remains to be a backward country and massive poverty prevails. Therefore, without promptly and sufficiently funding the infrastructure, equipment, and other operational needs of the various remote modalities, the delivery of accessible and quality education through LCP will remain an illusion,” Basilio said.

As per the parents’ preference for modular learning, the said modality includes the distribution of printed or digital materials to learners, who will then study the materials on their own with guidance from parent/s or guardian/s. Teachers will periodically gather the completed activity sheets upon the release of the next batch of modules.

“In Navotas, exchange of worksheets and new modules will take place every week while in Caraga, the same will happen on a monthly basis—raising serious concerns on the modality’s effectivity and the quality of education children will get. Considering the multiple burden parents carry as the crises worsen and the reality of many’s minimal educational background, it’s highly probable that not every child in the household will be given due support regardless of the parent’s dedication to provide them proper education,” Basilio said.

He added that, in the first place, parents don’t have the training teachers do; leading to the next difficulty—that teachers will ‘bear the brunt’ of ensuring quality education through a modality ‘incapable of delivering such’.

ACT said this has been the ‘way of things’ in education—the state’s duties are passed on to teachers without sufficient input or enabling mechanisms, citing that the still unavailable modules from DepEd Central Office can be likened to the ‘eight long years’ of lacking learning resources for the K to 12 curriculum which compelled teachers to find their own materials.

“The shortcomings of the government will again be shouldered by teachers who have time and again gone beyond their job descriptions, just so every child gets a chance at quality education. Teachers will go to great lengths and brave any danger for their students, but this need not be the case. The youth’s right to accessible quality education should not come at the cost of their and their teachers’ health and safety,” Basilio argued.

“DepEd cared more about bragging that classes continued even as education workers, learners, and parents suffered, than it did about ensuring meaningful learning for the youth amid one of the worst crises ever hitting the country,” he added.