DepEd finalizing policy on child protection for distance learning

Jaehwa Bernardo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 21 2020 01:45 PM

MANILA - The Department of Education said Monday it was finalizing a set of policies aimed at ensuring the rights and welfare of students during distance learning.

Children may be exposed to various risks as learning moves away from classrooms and into students' homes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, said Josephine Maribojoc, undersecretary for legal affairs.

A new department order will be released by late September or early October to supplement the existing policies of DepEd on child protection, Maribojoc said.

"Ito po ay isang Department Order na dadagdag sa mga probisyon ng Child Protection policy... upang tugunan ang mga risk and realities na maaaring maranasan ng mga bata sa home-based learning," she said in a virtual press briefing.

(This is a Department Order that will add provisions to the Child Protection policy... to respond to the risks and realities that children may experience in home-based learning.)

"Papatibayin din nito ang Child Protection committees at ang mga reporting mechanism. Magkakaroon din dito ng guidelines for online safety," she added.

(This will strengthen Child Protection committees and reporting mechanisms. It wil lalso have guidelines for online safety.)

Maribojoc cited corporal punishment, neglect of children, child labor, cyberbullying, online sexual abuse and exploitation, and exposure to online predators as risks that may threaten students in distance learning.

The DepEd held consultations with stakeholders and other government agencies in crafting the policies, she said.

Maribojoc added there will also be policies related to "recording, seeking consent [and] use of images" for online classes.

Abram Abanil, director of DepEd's information and communications technology, said the agency is also set to launch a "secured" learning management system (LMS) to prevent hackers from disrupting online classes.

"We are confident na hindi tayo maha-hack (that we will not be hacked)," he said.

Abanil said students will be given DepEd email accounts which will be used for the LMS and to avoid hackers.

Earlier this month, the education department began holding a series of webinars on child protection for parents and teachers, which can be viewed on Facebook.

In May, reports of online sexual exploitation of children in the Philippines spiked by over 260 percent during the coronavirus lockdown, according to the Department of Justice.