MANILA - The Department of Education will unveil its TV-Radio education modules on July 15, a month before students begin classes through audio-visual platforms, Senate Basic Education Committee chair Sherwin Gatchalian said Thursday.
The TV and radio education modules will be a "stopgap" measure to ensure that Filipino students without internet access will not be left behind while face-to-face classes are still banned during the coronavirus crisis, Gatchalian told reporters in an online press conference.
"That [internet] privilege is not available to 85 percent of our population. The best next alternative is radio... 'Yun ang puwede natin ibigay for now (That is what we can give for now)," he said.
"The solutions are not perfect. The outcome may not be perfect but we have to start from somewhere. We have to do something," he said.
Gatchalian acknowledged that students who have internet access have an advantage as they can discuss lessons and get immediate feedback from teachers, but said that using TV and radio modules for education is better than implementing an "academic freeze."
"Maiiwanan sila pero hindi ganun kalayo. (They will really be left behind, but not that far.) They have a chance, a fighting chance to learn something decent as opposed to wala talaga (learning nothing)," the senator said.
President Rodrigo Duterte earlier said that students in far-flung areas would be given transistor radios to help them cope with the education sector's shift to distance-learning.
'BOOKS INSTEAD OF RADIOS'
Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said the government should prioritize the purchase of textbooks over transistor radios.
"Kung wala na ngang laptop, wala pang signal, tapos wala pang libro, eh paano na ang mga bata?" Recto said in a statement.
(If they have no laptops, have no signal, and also have no books, what will happen to the children?)
"If we can print money, why can't we print books? Kung may perang pang transistor radios, dapat mayroon ding pang libro (If we have funds for transistor radios then we should have funds for books)," he said, noting that some public school text books only cost P50.
But Recto admitted that even producing text books for all public school students may be a challenge during the pandemic.
"The printing of millions of new books, out of this year's and previous years' appropriations, may have been disrupted by the recent 3-month long lockdown," his statement read.
The government's budget for textbooks this year was slashed to P963 million, half of last year's P1.8 billion, he said.
"'Yung budget ng DepEd, kinaltasan ng halos P8 billion at inialay sa laban sa COVID. Eh 'di ibalik 'yung parte nito para sa libro at mga programang kailangan ng 27.2 million na kabataang Pilipino," he said.
(The DepEd's budget was slashed by P8 billion to fund the fight agaist COVID. They should return a part of that allocation to fund the purchase of books and other programs needed by the 27.2 million students.)
Duterte earlier imposed a "no vaccine, no face-to-face classes" policy, saying the coronavirus can be transmitted among students should the government allow them to study in usually crammed classrooms.