MANILA - Public schools should "not force" students to go online even as the government banned face-to-face classes while a COVID-19 vaccine has yet to be released, Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian said Thursday.
Not all students in the Philippines are "privileged" to have access to the internet, Gatchalian said in an online press conference, noting that 85 percent of the population cannot afford to either purchase tablets and computers or have a stable internet connection.
"We should not force our students to go online. Ang public schools natin cater to the poorest of the poor kaya 'wag natin pilitin ang mga students na bumili ng gadgets na di nila kaya," he said, when asked to comment about the country's preparedness for online classes.
(Our public schools cater to the poorest of the poor so we should not force students to buy gadgets that they cannot afford.)
"Sa distance learning puwede namang magturo pa rin gamit ang modules na ide-deliver sa bahay nila," he said.
(In distance learning, students may use modules delivered to their houses.)
The Department of Education (DepEd) is set to unveil TV and radio modules on July 15 to serve as a "stopgap" measure for students who have no access to the internet, the senator 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.
President Rodrigo Duterte earlier said that transistor radios would be given to students in far flung areas to help them cope with the country's shift to distance learning and online classes.
The DepEd is also in the process of procuring more tablets, laptops and computers to ensure that all teachers in public schools will be equipped for the new normal in the education sector.