/ 10 October 2020

A TEACHERS’ group warned that the problems experienced during the opening of classes made the educational system ‘highly precarious’  and threatened the continuity of learning.

The Teachers’ Dignity Coalition said that the lack of school health measures and problems on the availability of learning materials and devices may disrupt classes or push students to drop out.

“The Department of Education should objectively assess and boldly address the critical problems experienced in the first week of school opening, rather than patting its own back for its imagined success. If the agency has any foresight, it should know that the school year they opened is hanging by a thread,” Raymond Basilio, the group’s secretary general, said.

Basilio identified school-level Covid19 transmission, scant and faulty modules, lack of gadgets, unstable internet connectivity, and heavy work and study load as critical problems that threaten the continuity of education amid the pandemic.

He blamed DepEd’s ‘stubborn refusal’ to conduct health screening and mass testing among education workers, and inadequate funding for school preventive measures for the Covid19 transmissions in schools.

He cited as examples the infection of three teachers in Cebu who distributed learning modules last month, the cancellation of class opening in a school in Bicol because a teacher tested positive for Covid19, and the infection of 10 teachers in Isabela.

“The problem of virus transmission in class-related activities is sure to bog education continuity down, as well as worsen the country’s health crisis if not quickly addressed. The government’s criminal neglect on this matter is putting the lives of our education frontliners in peril, and endangers further the health of our learners and communities,” Basilio said.

He sounded the alarm on the “impending dropping out of many enrolled students as they get frustrated with problems on learning materials, devices and expenses.”

“Instead of burying itself with twisting the data to make it appear that we have reached 100 percent enrollment in public schools, DepEd should be more concerned with how to keep those enrolled studying. Frustration runs high among our students as a significant number fails to attend online classes due to lack of access to technology and poor internet connectivity, and many can’t understand the modules which are either poor prints or erroneous while adults cannot provide sufficient guidance due to economic work or lacking educational capacities. Where are the DepEd’s boasted contingencies on all these problems?” Basilio asked.

He said that the class opening problems stemmed from  the government’s “failure to provide adequate funding requirements.”

“We are up to worse scenarios if the Duterte government does not give what the educational system needs until next year,” Basilio warned.