MANILA - Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture chair Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian on Friday said he would recommend to defer the opening of classes in August should the Department of Education (DepEd) still be unprepared by July 15.
The DepEd needs to train at least 80 percent of the 800,000 public school teachers by the said date before they could say that the country is ready to open virtual and distance-learning classes on August 24, Gatchalian said in an online press conference.
"Nakita naman natin na gumagalaw, but we have to be realistic kasi ang DepEd ay napakalaki at napakarami ng estudyante," Gatchalian said.
(We saw that they are doing something, but we have to be realistic because the DepEd is huge and there are a lot of students.)
"Kung hindi tayo ready, walang matutunan ang bata at magsasayng lang tayo ng pera kaya importante ang readiness natin," he said.
(If we are not yet ready, the student will not learn anything so we will just waste funds. That's why readiness is important.)
DepEd officials earlier told the Senate panel that only 40 percent of the country's 800,000 public school teachers have been trained to deliver lessons using the distance-learning approach as physical classes are barred with the continuing pandemic.
Self-learning modules, or workbooks that students will have to read and accomplish at home, have yet to be printed for some 23 million students.
"I am giving them until July 15... At least man lang 80 pct compliance kasi by August printing at distribution na. Mahirap naman kung August na nagte-training pa tayo [ng teachers]," the senator said.
(At least 80 percent compliance because by August they have to print and distribute. It will be difficult if we are still training teachers in August.)
Congress earlier passed a bill that allows the President to move the opening of classes beyond August in times of calamities or pandemics.
President Rodrigo Duterte has banned students from attending physical classes in schools while a coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccine has yet to be formulated.
But earlier this month, Duterte said that he is unsure if the country is "ready" to shift to the blended-learning system, where students would have to self-study using online, television, radio or printed materials.
The President has yet to decide if he would move the opening of classes to a date beyond August 24.