MANILA (UPDATE) — Hiring support aides does not address the needs of students who are incapable of independent learning or lack a parent or guardian that could supervise their studies at home, a teachers’ group said Tuesday.
The Department of Education has allowed its division offices and schools to hire learning support aides (LSAs) that would help teachers and parents facilitate the schooling of students at home.
Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Secretary General Raymond Basilio, however, said LSAs do not provide learning opportunities for disadvantaged learners since they have no teaching function and would simply assist teachers in class management and clerical work.
“While other students have learning opportunities via online class, phone-based consultations, and home tutorials, the most marginalized will remain wanting of somebody to teach them the contents of the modules,” Basilio said in a statement.
Basilio also said fund sources for the LSAs, such as local government funds and allocations for maintenance and other operating expenses in schools and division offices, are unreliable.
“We are afraid that this program will go nowhere as instead of allocating funds for it, the DepEd is again passing on to [local government units] and local schools the task of financing LSA salaries,” Basilio said, adding that the fund sources have already been drained for the provision of modules, gadgets, and school safety supplies.
The policy on LSAs also violate the teachers’ right to just compensation since the aides, who are also professional teachers, will only be paid with minimum wage, he added.
According to DepEd Order No. 32, LSA positions shall be offered to existing teacher applicants for School Year 2020 to 2021 who were not given permanent or provisional appointments due to lack of available plantilla teaching items.
LSAs will be compensated based on the minimum daily wage rates set in the region they serve, based on the order.
The order also enumerates the responsibilities of LSAs, which include monitoring learners’ accomplishment of tasks and coordinating students’ concerns with subject teachers, among
In place of the LSA program, ACT proposed the hiring of 100,000 community tutors to provide services to marginalized students.
“These community tutors should be paid Teacher I level salaries,” the group added.
But Education Undersecretary Jesus Mateo said LSAs could teach the lessons in the modules if they are asked by a teacher, assuming that they are qualified.
“The bigger challenge is class management, monitoring of student progress, hence, the engagement of LSAs to help the teachers,” he told ABS-CBN News.
Mateo also said the compensation of LSAs is in accordance with labor laws.
The DepEd saw the need to hire LSAs as it acknowledged that not all households have an adult that could help students, especially those in the lower grade levels, with their lessons. LSAs may also share tasks with teachers who have recently complained of overwhelming workload.
Schools shifted to distance learning this year as in-person classes remain indefinitely banned due to the continued threat of COVID-19, which has infected over 359,000 in the country.