MANILA — A lawmaker on Wednesday dared Education Secretary Leonor Briones to go to far-flung and poor areas to demonstrate distance learning, which educational institutions will implement in the coming school year as in-person classes remain suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.
ACT-Teachers Rep. France Castro made the challenge as she called on the Department of Education to ensure "quality and accessibility of education will not be sacrificed" when the school year formally starts in August.
Castro, in a statement, said implementing blended learning without providing adequate support to personnel and students would sacrifice quality education.
"We challenge Secretary Briones to demonstrate the different learning modalities in less fortunate areas herself so that the education department will see how their policies would be implemented on the ground and see the consequences on quality and accessibility of education," the lawmaker said.
"The education department assumes that all students are capable of teaching themselves at home using printed, soft copies or online versions of their modules. It assumes that all students have parents that can help them learn their lessons," she added.
Under distance learning, lessons will be delivered to students through printed or digital modules, online learning and television or radio-based instruction. Learners at home may be supervised by parents or guardians.
Castro said the low enrollment rate was a sign that many students would have difficulty with blended learning.
As of Tuesday, 13.75 million students have enrolled in public and private schools nationwide, according to DepEd data. Last school year, around 27 million students were registered in schools.
The DepEd earlier said the opening of classes on Aug. 24 would give the agency more time to prepare in implementing the alternatives to face-to-face learning.
The agency is 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.
The DepEd has also said it would conduct training for teachers, and parents and guardians who will be supervising their children's learning at home.
Several lawmakers and groups have expressed skepticism over the department's readiness to implement distance learning.