MANILA — Contrary to Education Secretary Leonor Briones' view, opening another school year during the COVID-19 pandemic "does not warrant its success," a teachers' group said Monday as it bared problems that educators faced in the first week of classes.
"One week after the opening of classes for this school year, initial assessment from the ground shows that this is far from being a success," the Teachers' Dignity Coalition (TDC) said in a statement.
The group was reacting to Briones' statement when she formally opened School Year 2021-2022 last Monday, which she described as a "success."
But the TDC refuted the education chief, noting that printed modules are still unavailable for students, and many families and teachers still struggle to access gadgets and internet connectivity for distance learning.
The group said teachers continue to be "burdened with loads of clerical tasks, printing and sorting of papers and frequent online meetings and seminars."
"These are on top of the essential activities such as online tutoring, orientation and follow up with children and parents, synchronous and asynchronous lessons, and reading and correction modules," it said.
The group added that teachers are still required to physically report to schools, exposing them to the risk of getting COVID-19, despite strict regulations on alternative work arrangements.
TDC called on the Department of Education (DepEd) to hold a "genuine consultation" with stakeholders, conduct an "honest assessment" of the previous school year, provide health benefits and gadgets, and strictly implement the alternative work arrangement policy, among others.
The DepEd had yet to react on the TDC's statement.
On Monday, the agency reported that over 28.2 million learners have enrolled for School Year 2021-2022.
The number is higher than last year's 26.2 million total enrollees and the pre-pandemic figure of 27 million students.
In a message to reporters, Education Undersecretary Nepomuceno Malaluan said the agency was "happy" with this year's enrollment turnout.
The agency will begin to update students' profiles, which "will be the basis for the official enrollment for SY 2021-2022, which we will release by the end of October," Malaluan said.
"The updated students profiles will allow us to provide information on migration of learners, balik-aral and other important indicators," he said.