MANILA — The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) on Wednesday called on the Department of Education (DepEd) to temporarily shift classes to blended or distance learning during the dry season.
ACT Chairperson Vladimir Quetua told ANC that based on a survey they held recently, a significant number of learners experienced discomfort and sickness due to hot weather, resulting to absenteeism.
He also echoed concerns from his fellow teachers about the lack of ventilation in packed classrooms, where 45 to 60 students spend their entire day attending classes.
Because of this, he called on the DepEd leadership, particularly Education Secretary and Vice President Sara Duterte, to consider shifting to other modes of learning at least for the remaining quarter of the school year.
"Baka pwedeng pag-isipan kaagad ito ng DepEd kasi may natitirang isa pang quarter eh, at iyong quarter na ito, tingin namin, ay titindi pa. Kaya mas magiging miserable ang buhay ng mga mag-aaral, ng mga guro sa loob ng paaralan na parang pugon. Para kang nilulutong pandesal sa loob nito," he said.
(I hope the DepEd considers this as we expect the hot weather to intensify during the remaining quarter. We fear that our students and teachers may end up being more miserable inside schools that feel like furnaces. We feel like pandesal being cooked inside these.)
Quetua also noted that some students would ask permission from their teachers to leave their classes to drink water, but would never come back.
Some teachers who already have conditions such as hypertension, on the other hand, were also at greater risk for "temperature-induced ailments," he added.
"Sa survey namin, 82 percent iyong mag-aaral na may temperature-sensitive ailments, tapos kaming mga guro, sa survey namin may hypertension, may migraine," he said.
(Based on our survey, 82 percent of students have temperature-sensitive ailments, while we teachers have conditions like hypertension and migraine.)
ACT's recent survey, Quetua said, was conducted following the incident in a school in Cabuyao City, Laguna where more than 100 students were hospitalized allegedly due to the "scorching heat."
Among the long-term solutions to the problem, Quetua also said, were building more classrooms to decongest the number of learners in every class, as well as allotting DepEd funds for additional ventilation equipment such as electric fans and air conditioners.
"Ang ideal kasi, iyong 20 to 35 (students), maaliwalas ang loob ng paaralan," he said.
(The ideal number is 20 to 35 students. With that number, our schools are more cozy.)
In a statement, Duterte said the DepEd was "not blind to the problems besetting the education system."
"The hiring of teachers, the hiring of administrative staff, as well as the construction of new classrooms and school buildings are among the solutions identified and being pursued now," Duterte's statement read.
"May I reiterate that ACT Teachers’ suggestions were both unrealistic and impossible — presented to shame the government and deceive the public into believing that the hiring of teachers and increasing the education budget were their idea," she added.