Senator Nancy Binay on Sunday said she supports the August 24 opening of classes despite admission that the country is not ready for a “blended learning.
She noted that even if the school year begins September or December, the problems on “unpreparedness” remain.
“So we need to start to know our problems instead of delaying and delaying but the problems are still there,” she said.
She braces for more problems because this system is something new to us and “we are all groping on how our students will return to their classes.”
“I also do not want them to be just staying at home and learning nothing. This is also not productive for our youth,” she said
Asked if tuition fees should be reduced with the online learning, Binay noted that private schools will secure software to conduct classroom online.
She said it is similar to “Google classroom.” While admitting she does not know the system, Binay said that was what she heard that there’s a software to be used.
“What we heard now is that public schools also increased their tuition fees,” she said.
Sen. Imee Marcos shared the views of Binay that there are many problems that would arise due to this mode of learning following the coronavirus pandemic.
She said education officials also cannot explain how they will do it.
While classes open in two months, she said it still cannot be assessed which schools are capable of distance learning.
She also related that not even half of the public school teachers had studied distance learning.
As the education system adopts blended learning methods to protect students from COVID-19, Senator Bong Go urged the Department of Education to lay down an action plan to address concerns of Filipinos in preparation for the upcoming school year.
He also reminded concerned agencies to work together to provide for alternative, remote learning methods that can ensure education access even for students who have no internet connection.
A global framework formulated by the United Nations Children’s Fund; United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization; and the World Bank recommends that, for the safe re-opening of classes, focus should also be on other learning modalities to reach areas without internet connection.
Go earlier recommended to the education sector to maximize the use of available media, such as television and radio, to facilitate distance learning among students.
The Senator cited Republic Act No. 8370, also known as the Children’s Television Act of 1997, which requires a minimum of 15% of a network’s daily total air time to programs that further children’s positive development.
Meanwhile, state media company Intercontinental Broadcasting Corporation (IBC-13) has offered to use its television facilities as a remote learning platform. The proposal should enable DepEd to air curriculum-based programs when the school year reopens.
Go added that teachers must be given sufficient training in the use of various multimedia platforms for teaching. Given the ongoing health crisis, the Senator also reminded DepEd that educators should also be ready to provide psychosocial support to their students.
He stressed that students with disabilities should be considered in the implementation of the plan. The integration of social and emotional learning should also be emphasized given the ongoing pandemic which has affected the lives of students and their families.
He staunchly backed President Rodrigo Duterte’s call to disallow face-to-face learning until it is deemed safe or until a vaccine for COVID-19 is available. President Duterte also earlier suggested the use of radio as a mode of distance learning given that it is the most accessible form of media even in far-flung areas.
“We will take this one step at a time so that we can slowly, but surely ensure that education continues without compromising the safety of our students. Kahit ayaw nating maantala ang klase nila, importanteng safe sila,” Go cautioned.
Meanwhile, DepEd has been developing its Basic Education-Learning Continuity Plan to cope up with the pandemic. The plan directs schools to implement blended/distance learning modalities wherein lessons will be delivered to the students in their homes.
Under said plan, DepEd has developed a learning portal called “DepEd Commons” where online learning resources are published. Television- and radio-based instruction is also part of the plan.
As for students who lack access to these technologies, DepEd’s plan is that they will be provided with printed or digital modules to be delivered to their homes, or picked up by their parents at designated areas, within coordinated schedules for learners. The use of printed self-learning modules is an alternative to digital learning. These printed modules will supplement the TV broadcast and radio-based instructions being strategized by DepEd./Stacy Ang