Some teachers still lack gadgets for distance learning as school opening nears

Jaehwa Bernardo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 04 2020 01:14 PM | Updated as of Aug 04 2020 03:32 PM

Teachers and school employees prepare elementary school modules for blended learning for the coming school opening at the Geronimo Santiago Elementary School in Manila on July 21, 2020. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA – Public school teacher Erlinda Antonio is saving up to buy a laptop so she could connect to her students taking up online classes when the school year starts on August 24. 

She said her family already had a laptop at home but it was mainly used by her son, a college student studying information technology.

In the past months, Antonio accomplished work-related tasks, such as teacher training and enrollment, using her cellphone and by sharing the laptop with her son.

“Siyempre mas priority namin na gamitin ng anak namin kasi pag-aaral niya eh. Kami nakikisingit-singit lang,” said Antonio, who teaches Grade 1 students at a school in Quezon City.

Antonio is not too keen on availing a loan program by the Government Service Insurance System, where public school teachers and other government workers could borrow up to P30,000 to buy a desktop or laptop to adjust to new education schemes.

“Dagdag na naman po 'yon [sa utang]. Puro na kami loan,” said Antonio, who earns P21,000 per month but takes home only around P12,000.

But the Department of Education said it was not urgent for both teachers and students to buy laptops or computers for the coming school year.

“Hindi lamang para sa may laptop o may cellphone ang bagong school year,” Education Undersecretary Alain Pascua said Tuesday in a statement.

The DepEd, however, said it recognized the importance of its personnel possessing equipment, adding that it was striving to provide public school teachers with laptops and other tools needed to carry out distance learning.

School heads are also allowed to lend desktop computers, laptops, tablets and smartphones to teachers for their use to prepare for the school year, based on DepEd policy.

But some schools are unable to provide equipment for their personnel, like the one where Antonio teaches.

“Sana ma-provide-an nila talaga ang teacher kasi sa totoo lang... marami talagang walang laptop,” Antonio said, appealing to the education department.

Out of almost 700,000 teachers nationwide who answered a recent DepEd survey, 87 percent said they have laptops or computers at home while 13 percent have none.

But Antonio, who has been teaching for nearly 3 decades, said some of those who answered that they have laptops may be sharing the device with other people.

“Oo lahat may laptop pero ang tanong, ‘yon ba ay personal niya?” she said.

Under DepEd’s distance learning plan, lessons will be delivered to students through printed and digital modules, online classes, television, and radio.

The DepEd has said it was still purchasing desktop computers, laptops, tablets, and other equipment for both teachers and students in public schools.

Some local government units have also announced they would be providing gadgets for teachers and students in their jurisdiction.