DepEd says to address challenges in distance learning

Jaehwa Bernardo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 05 2020 03:47 PM | Updated as of Oct 06 2020 08:16 AM

A faculty member sifts through envelopes containing learning materials during the distribution of gadgets and modules at the Rafael Palma Elementary School in Manila on October 1, 2020. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - As over 22 million public school students begin to venture into distance learning, some were not able to join their virtual classes due to unreliable internet connectivity.

Out of 39 students who should have participated in her online class Monday morning, 4 were unable to attend, said Annalyn Rentoy, a teacher at Pasig Elementary School.

"Hindi sila makapasok dahil daw may [problema sa] internet connection. Pero, mayroon naman silang modules," said Rentoy.

Online and modular learning are among the different distance education modalities being implemented by the Department of Education (DepEd) this year as in-person class remain suspended due to the threat of COVID-19.

Education Secretary Leonor Briones said the department will continue to monitor the situation in schools under the "new normal" and respond to the challenges that would arise.

"Namo-monitor ito on a day-to-day basis. At saka, kung may challenge na lumalabas, gumagawa tayo ng adjustment," Briones said during the virtual Laging Handa press briefing.

(We monitor on a day-to-day basis. And if there are challenges that arise, we make adjustments.)

She added that there will also be an assessment on the implementation of distance learning.

"Kung ano ang resulta ng assessment na 'yan will always be made public," she said.

(Whatever is the result of that assessment will always be made public.)

Diosdado San Antonio, DepEd's undersecretary for curriculum and instruction, said the agency would also look at the best practices of schools in implementing distance learning so these could be shared with other institutions.

Aside from internet connectivity, some modules have yet to be claimed by parents, said DepEd Chief of Staff Nepomuceno Malaluan, who was in Batangas to monitor the school opening.

"May mga residual na lang ng mga magulang na hindi nakapag-claim [ng modules]," he said.

(There's still a residual of parents who have yet to claim the modules.)

Briones also said some students who have yet to receive their modules are late enrollees.

The DepEd earlier said in the absence of modules, students may use other learning materials as long as these are aligned with the revised curriculum.

'Abandonment of education'

Also on Monday, the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) trooped to Mendiola in Manila City to protest what it considered the government's "abandonment of education."

In a statement in commemoration of World Teachers' Day, that coincides with the school opening in the country, ACT said the government "left teachers at the frontlines of education while the health and socioeconomic crises relentlessly rage on."

Teachers have been rushing to print unprovided parts of or entire modules, struggling to hold online classes using faculty laptops and personal internet connection, and reporting in schools without sufficient protection against COVID-19, the group said.

The Teachers' Dignity Coalition urged government to provide financial and institutional support for teachers who fall ill due to COVID-19.

The DepEd earlier said it did not have funds under its 2020 budget to cover the hospitalization and treatment of teachers who would get sick with COVID-19, but they can avail of benefit packages from the Philippine Health Insurance Corp.

The group also asked the DepEd to reduce the "insane workload" of teachers under distance learning, and provide gadgets and a P2,000 internet allowance.

In declaring victory against the disease as she formally opened the academic year earlier in the day, Briones said "We will not allow COVID-19 to destroy our children's education and their future."

— With a report from Zhander Cayabyab, ABS-CBN News