MANILA - An education official defended Wednesday the Department of Education's decision to extend the academic year until July 10 to address learning gaps among students.
"Gusto po nating bigyan ng panahon para ang mga batang ito ay makahabol kasi ayaw nating may naiiwan kahit iisa lang 'yan," said DepEd Undersecretary Diosdado Antonio in an interview on TeleRadyo.
(We want to give children the chance to catch up because we don't want anyone to be left behind even if it's just one student.)
"'Yung assumption natin hanggang Sabado may lessons dapat ang mga bata so wala na pong lugar para sa makeup classes," he added.
(We assume that there would be lessons until Saturday so there's no room for makeup classes.)
DepEd implemented distance learning—where students study in their homes through printed and digital modules, online classes, television and radio—to avoid exposing education workers and learners to the risk of COVID-19, which has sickened over 580,000 in the country.
A group of teachers, meanwhile, said they were not consulted prior to the DepEd announcement about the extension of the academic year.
"Nagulat kami kumakalat na po ito nang hindi pa nababanggit sa mga teacher...Hindi po kinokonsulta ang mga teacher, ang mga frontliners ng education sector. Mas kinokonsulta pa nila ang mga bata, mga magulang, business sector...lahat kinokonsulta nila maliban sa mga teacher," Teachers Dignity Coalition national chairman Benjo Basas said.
(We were surprised this has been going around without even being mentioned to teachers...Teachers weren't consulted. The DepEd consults children, their parents, the business sector...they consult everyone but teachers.)
The agency's decision to extend the school year is aimed to address the lack of self-learning modules, Basas said.
"Wala talagang modules hanggang ngayon," he said.
"Sa tingin po namin tama ang komento ng ilan nating kababayan, palalawigin po natin 'yan, palalawigin din natin ang hirap ng mga estudyante."
(We think some people's comments are right that if we extend the school year, we will also extend the struggle of our students.)
President Rodrigo Duterte has twice rejected the DepEd’s proposal to pilot test limited face-to-face classes despite calls from various groups and lawmakers to safely reopen schools, citing challenges in distance learning.