/ 3 October 2020

DAYS before the opening of classes on October 5, the Teachers’ Dignity Coalition urged the Department of Education to address the technological needs of teachers for distance learning.

Benjo Basas, the group’s national chairman, said that teachers spend at least P1,500 monthly from their own pockets for the internet so that they can teach their students.

“Video conferences, text messages, calls, surfing, downloading and uploading materials, all of these now define this era, and Covid19 has made this digital learning tenfold a necessity,” Basas said.

“But teachers are supplied neither service laptops nor internet allowances. Out of their own pockets, they are forced to buy not only laptops, but android phones, external drives, USB drives, printers, ink and reams of bond paper. And it does not end at buying these equipment; laptops, especially, would need to be repaired sooner or later for burned motherboards, broken keyboards, damaged screens, dead batteries, etc. Printers have a thousand things that could go wrong so soon after purchase. And being ‘personal’ equipment, repairs and parts replacements will have to be shouldered—yet once again—by teachers,” Basas added.

The TDC noted that while some local government units provide equipment like laptops, DepEd must fulfill its mandate and address the needs of teachers.

“The DepEd has yet to clarify as well its claims on the 93 percent of schools supplied with gadgets. How many ‘gadgets’ per school, what sort of gadgets, and which schools? This claim has got many thinking what the claim was all about, given that most of our teachers have never heard of any colleague receiving one of these gadgets,” Basas said.

On September 15, the Education department released a memorandum saying that it is preparing for the provision of connectivity and communications expenses for its employees.

The memorandum, however, sets conditions on who can receive the incentive.

“While the TDC appreciates this effort, we would suggest that the internet data allowance be given to all teachers and employees without conditions or deadlines. Obviously, everybody in the DepEd is badly in need of internet data, be it in bytes or equivalent in cash,” Basas said.