Robredo urges DepEd to realign P29-billion budget to fund distance learning, health concerns
MANILA, Philippines — With classes set to reopen in less than two weeks amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Vice President Leni Robredo on Monday wrote Education Secretary Leonor Briones to urge that a budget for rehabilitating school buildings be realigned to address several distance learning and health concerns raised by stakeholders.
“Around P29.5 billion was earmarked for the rehabilitation of school buildings for 2020…This amount can be used to procure the needed gadgets and equipment for distance learning, as well as address the health concerns of educators,” Robredo said.
She emphasized that rehabilitating school buildings is not a priority at the moment, given the shift to blended learning.
Meanwhile, she highlighted that access to internet has become paramount for many learners who hope to participate in distance learning this school year.
“Data shows that around 61% of 14 million households do not have access to the internet. Moreover, 74% or around 347,000 schools do not have the infrastructure to engage in online learning,” the vice president said.
“While we understand the Department has set up the DepEd Commons learning platform for students to access lessons on their own, we have received reports that only 7 million learning platform for students have so far subscribed to this platform. This constitutes only 35% of the estimated 20 million public school students in the country,” she added.
Robredo urged DepEd to set up internet hubs in schools and communities to address these gaps in access.
Realign P700 million for teachers’ health concerns
In addition to distance learning concerns, she reiterated that teachers are worried for their own health, and are still waiting on DepEd to bare its plans on how it will ensure their safety, amid the pandemic.
“These anxieties are becoming more pronounced given that they too, will be among our frontliners when the school year opens,” Robredo said.
Given this, she recommended that DepEd immediately realign a P700 million budget for the in-service training of teachers in order to take the following steps for them instead:
- mass COVID-19 testing with results out before classes begin
- set up a sufficient fund for physical checkups and medicine
- provide supplies such as personal protective equipment, hand sanitizers and other necessary materials
- issue regular and timely hazard pay
- create a system to address health and wellness needs
“Many of these trainings have already, or will be, shifted to online modalities, thus freeing up resources that would otherwise have been used for travel and accommodations,” she said. — Bella Perez-Rubio
As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: August 11, 2020 – 2:42pm
Follow this thread for updates on when classes will resume, and how those classes will be conducted.
Photo: Students wearing protective face masks have their temperatures taken while entering their college campus in Manila on January 31, 2020. AFP/Ted Aljibe
August 11, 2020 – 2:42pm
A group of teachers says school heads lament late release of central funds and depleted school funds for module printing for the August 24 opening of classes.
“The stress and pressure our school heads are experiencing right now is yet another substantial proof that we’re not ready to open schools on August 24. And unlike Sec. Briones’ absurd claims of preparedness being relative, it is on the contrary very quantifiable, concrete, and verifiable on the ground,” says Alliance of Concerned Teachers General Raymond Basilio.
August 4, 2020 – 1:52pm
A group of teachers says they received reports that the modules for this academic year won’t be ready by August 24.
“Teachers were also disappointed that while they have been tasked to make the activity sheets that will come with the modules, they have not seen until today the copies of these modules, forcing them to just base the activity sheets on last year’s lessons,” says Alliance of Concerned Teachers Secretary General Raymond Basilio.
August 1, 2020 – 1:42pm
The Alliance of Concerned Teachers Philippines criticizes the curriculum under the basic education-learning continuity plan for the “lack of content responsive to the present health and economic crises.”
“If anything, forcing ‘normalcy’ at this time will only further alienate students from their own lived experiences of extreme insecurity, which the COVID-19 predicament brought to their family’s health, economic situation, and their future,” ACT Secretary General Raymond Basilio says.
“Education must reflect the world we live in and is a promising weapon to allow all of us to surmount these crises—this will serve as solid ground for DepEd’s claimed desire to bring hope to learners by arming them to actively participate as we work towards a better normal,” he adds,
July 21, 2020 – 8:23am
Education Secretary Leonor Briones proposes to have limited face-to-face session per week for schools in areas with low cases of COVID-19.
In a delayed broadcast of President Rodrigo Duterte’s meeting with the inter-agency task force on COVID-19, Briones says allowing limited face-to-face classes will help close gaps in education.
“We can allow face-to-face learning but to be strictly regulated in light of present conditions,” Briones says, noting that stringent health standards will be imposed.
July 17, 2020 – 9:31am
The Department of Information and Communications Technology says it has allocated P7.7 billion for the implementation of the Free Wi-Fi for All in Public Places and State Universities and Colleges Program.
DICT chief Gregorio Honasan II says the budget will be used to reach 23,100 lives sites by the end of 2021.
“We are aiming to provide every public school and SUC with free Internet connectivity and access to aid our students and teachers adapt to the new normal in the education sector. This is part of our commitment to DepEd, CHED and TESDA to ensure the education sector’s access to broadcast, connectivity and digital security this upcoming school year while the country is still under state of public health emergency,” Honasan says.