Some Metro Manila teachers face internet issues as onsite work resumes

Jaehwa Bernardo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 18 2022 03:14 PM

A teacher works on her laptop inside one of the classrooms of a public elementary school in Quezon City. Photo courtesy of Ruby Ana Bernardo
A teacher works on her laptop inside one of the classrooms of a public elementary school in Quezon City. Photo courtesy of Ruby Ana Bernardo

MANILA — In the past two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, teacher Ruby Ana Bernardo delivered lessons to students from her home, making use of modules and online platforms.

But on Monday, Bernardo joined hundreds of her colleagues in returning to work at a public high school in Quezon City, following a new policy of the Department of Education (DepEd) requiring all personnel in Alert Level 1 areas to physically report to their schools and offices.

On their first day back at their campus, some teachers found it difficult to connect to the internet, hampering the effective conduct of online classes, said Bernardo, who teaches Grade 10 Filipino.

"Ang dami naging problema. Mahina 'yong signal ng isang building na pinrovide sa'min sana for online class," she said in an interview with ABS-CBN News.

(There were many problems. The internet signal was weak in the building that was provided for us to do online classes.)

Bernardo, who is a member of the Quezon City Public School Teachers Association, said some of her colleagues worked along corridors just to get internet signal while others used their mobile hotspot.

"Pero hindi pa rin kinakaya kapag hotspot," she said.

(But even the use of hotspot isn't enough.)

Bernardo's school has yet to start holding limited in-person classes because it was still fulfilling the requirements under the DepEd's school safety assessment tool.

Last week, the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) and Teachers' Dignity Coalition urged the DepEd to suspend the implementation of the mandatory on-site reporting policy and asked for consultations on new work arrangements.

As of writing, the DepEd has yet to issue a statement on the matter.

A recent online survey conducted by ACT in the National Capital Region (NCR) showed that 87.6 percent of 9,254 teacher-respondents answered "no" when they were asked "if their school internet can service all teachers who will be conducting simultaneous online classes."

There are a total of 70, 356 teachers in Metro Manila, according to DepEd-NCR data.

Inadequate internet emerged as the top issue raised by the respondents over the new policy, according to ACT-NCR. It was followed by health risks in light of the ongoing pandemic and "transportation concerns."

"Hindi pa rin kami kampante kumbaga kung ano 'yong mangyari kung [may] magkasakit sa amin," Bernardo said of the continued threat of COVID-19.

(We're still not confident with what'll happen if any of us gets sick.)

Teachers work at the corridors of a public high school in Quezon City just to get adequate internet signal. Photo courtesy of Ruby Ana Bernardo
Teachers work at the corridors of a public high school in Quezon City just to get adequate internet signal. Photo courtesy of Ruby Ana Bernardo

In a statement on Monday, ACT-NCR Union President Vladimer Quetua said teachers resorted to asynchronous classes instead of synchronous online classes "in order to consume lower internet bandwidths, which was all their school internet can handle."

"Forcing a blanket policy among teachers—and without any prior consultation—unnecessarily puts teachers in more challenging conditions," he said.

Quetua pointed out that in the last 2 years of the pandemic, teachers "have setup a system for handling multiple learning modalities for our students, only for it to be completely disregarded and disrupted by this new order."

Bernardo agreed with the call for the suspension of the policy.

"Kasi ang nagsa-suffer dito, nakikita natin 'yong learning process ng mga bata," she said.

(Because what suffers here, we see, is the children's lerning process.)

"Nangangailangan ito ng kagyat na aksyon eh... lalo ngayong first day, kitang-kita namin 'yong hassle, 'yong epekto rin doon sa pagtuturo natin," Bernardo added.

(This needs immediate action... especially now on our first day back, we saw the hassle, the effect it has on our teaching.)

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