MANILA - The Department of Education (DepEd) on Thursday said it was planning to tap retired teachers, education graduates and other volunteers to help in mentoring students without internet access once the blended-learning system begins in August.
Under the DepEd's program while physical classes remain barred because of the COVID-19 threat, teachers will have to call and visit students in their homes from time to time to check on the learners' progress, Education Undersecretary Tonisito Umali told the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture.
"Paano kung hindi sapat ang mga guro? We will engage mga retired teachers, community learning facilitators para sila po tutulong na umikot para magkaroon ng some form of intervention ang mga learners natin," he said.
(What if there are not enough teachers? We will engage retired teachers, community learning facilitators so they can help in doing rounds and give some form of intervention for our learners.)
Graduates of "teacher education institutions who have not yet passed the board" examinations will also be "engaged" in the program, DepEd Bureau of Curriculum Development Director Jocelyn Andaya said.
The proposal was conceived as government officials acknowledged that not all parents are capable of guiding their children who would be learning from home after President Rodrigo Duterte banned physical classes while a coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccine has yet to be developed.
While students with internet access can attend online classes, parents of learners in areas without mobile signals will have to pick up "self-learning" workbooks from schools weekly.
Students will have to read and understand the lessons by themselves, and accomplish exercises in the workbook every week.
At the end of the week, parents will have to submit his or her child's workbook in school and pick up a new module for the following week.
"Usually po pick-up [ng workbook] on Monday, ibabalik on Thursday or Friday pero depende po 'yan sa sitwasyon sa baba," Umali said, noting that in some cases, students would not be forced to submit their output every 3 days.
(Usually they would need to pick up the workbook on Mondays, then bring them back Thursday or Friday but it depends on the situation on the ground.)
Students may also have to tune in to radio and television shows to help them understand the lessons, he said.
Umali said he is confident that teachers would be willing to regularly call their students to ensure that they have learned the lessons.
"Marami po tayong mga guro na talaga pong dedicated. Gagawin po nila 'yan," he said.
(We have many teachers who are really dedicated. They will do that.)
Senate Committee on Basic Education chair Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian earlier said that the new learning scheme is a "stopgap" measure to ensure that Filipino students without internet access would not be left behind while face-to-face classes are still banned during the coronavirus crisis.
"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.
"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.
As of June 25, only 40 percent of the 800,000 public school teachers in the country have been trained on how to deliver lessons in the distance-learning scheme, DepEd earlier said.