Teachers need better internet access, health insurance: study

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 24 2021 11:38 AM | Updated as of Aug 24 2021 02:00 PM

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MANILA – Internet connectivity remains the biggest problem of teachers amid the implementation of distance learning in the country, the National Research Council of the Philippines said Tuesday.

Dr. Celina Sarmiento said most teachers in rural areas had to rely on mobile data to do their jobs online.

“You have your wired connection, which is more stable, and you have like your mobile data which is actually more expensive and less stable compared to the wired one because the wired connection are usually not available in the provinces,” she told ANC’s “Rundown.”

Sarmiento also noted that most of their respondents reported spending for internet connectivity out of their own pockets.

“One of the things our teachers had to spend on, and unfortunately sometimes using personal funds despite their meager salary, is internet connectivity.”

She suggested that government lay down a concrete plan for cheaper, more stable internet connection in all parts of the country.

Sarmiento also called on telecommunication companies to consider offering discounts to teachers.

“The cellphone networks or the communication networks could provide support for teachers like discounts probably for internet connection because it’s difficult to build or establish the infrastructure needed to have the faster internet connection at the moment, but at least somehow we can lessen the expenses of our teachers,” she said.

She also called on the Department of Education (DepEd) to give their teachers the proper support.

“I think by June 2021 the DepEd distributed sim cards with data allowance for our teachers. But we’ve heard that in some areas, the sim card distributed has no signal.”

Sarmiento noted that the teachers’ needs are immediate, since classes are already opening on September 13.

Sarmiento also called on the government to provide better health insurance for teachers, who still report to school to distribute and collect modules they use for instruction.

“Of course as public school teachers we know they’re only covered with PhilHealth, but PhilHealth has certain limitations. And when a teacher is hospitalized because of COVID-19, that’s an additional cost for most teachers.”

“We’ve heard of teachers who had severe COVID-19, and had to spend around P600,000 for hospitalization. If you look at P600,000 that’s around 2 years’ salary of a teacher,” she noted.

She also added that teachers should be prioritized in the distribution of COVID-19 jabs nationwide.

“In some LGUs teachers are a priority, but I think this has to be rolled out nationwide,” she said.