Senators raise apprehension on DepEd’s readiness for upcoming school year
Some senators raised concerns to Department of Education as they tackled on Thursday over the lack of preparedness of the department for the upcoming school year that would commence on August.
Some of their concerns are about the majority of teachers that are still untrained for ICT-based training, modules have not yet printed and how to connect with students through online, televisions and radios.
“Only 40 percent of our teachers are already trained. Kanina lumabas din wala tayong mapping o ginagawa pa lang natin yung mapping ngayon, and the printing of the materials, I was actually surprised that it would take 30 to 60 days to print. Then the budget is also another big issue, especially when you talk about connectivity and gadgets,” Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, chair of the committee, said.
“The challenges are quite staggering at talagang malaki po ang hamon na hinaharap ng Department of Education dito po sa paglulunsad ng distance learning natin,” he added.
“The figure is just about 40 percent of the total public school teaching population of more than 800,000. Malapit na po iyong August 24 school opening so paano po ito?” Senator Francis Tolentino asked.
“Kung ready na po iyong 40 percent, papaano po iyong 60 percent?” he said.
In response, DepEd Undersecretary Diosdado San Antonio said the DepEd target to complete the training of all teachers by July.
On the other hand, Senator Nancy Binay asked Deped if it has already a mapping system that would determine the appropriate learning modality in different areas in the entire country.
San Antonio told senators, however, that the “exact map is still a work in progress.”
“Part of what we’re doing now is to gather information as we proceed with the enrollment procedure, to really map which specific learning delivery modality would be appropriate to a specific group of learners,” he explained.
“Magkakaroon po tayo ng klarong picture before the school year opens, that’s part of the thing that we would do ‘pag available na po ‘yung data,” he added.
During the enrollment process, students would need to fill out survey forms that would determine whether or not they have the capacity to participate in online-based learning, according to DepEd Undersecretary Tony Umali.
“Hindi ho ba dapat meron na tayong ganitong mapping kasi yung training na gagawin niyo sa mga teachers dapat angkop dun sa kakayahan ng lugar e. For example Bukidnon or Cordillera na mahirap ang signal so why would we train our teachers for an online way of teaching when alam naman natin na mukhang mahirap yung ganung kalse ng pagtuturo?” she pointed out.
Umali said that the department has yet to collect data on which students have access to the internet or radios.
But he further guaranteed that DepEd would have the said data at the beginning of July.
Over 13.7 million students have enrolled for the upcoming school year as of June 23.
“We expect this to grow in the next couple of days in the remaining days of June at makakaasa po kayo, we assure you na yung inaantay po ninyo…sigurado pong malalaman po namin ang sitwasyon ng ating mag-aaral,” he said.
“We are getting there, so kung bibigyan niyo lamang po kami, siguro po Hulyo, malalaman po namin,” he added.
Binay asked about the readiness of module and procurement of laptops for teachers.
In response, Umali said DepEd has yet to print out self-learning modules for students who do not have access to the internet.
He also said that DepEd could not afford the procurement of laptops and gadgets for all of its teachers.
“The procurement of laptop for teachers’ , I don’t want to dwell on that because the budget that we have right now—as we all know for every expenditure, there should be a law and that law is the General Appropriations Act to authorize that particular expenditure—we don’t have funds to procure laptops or gadgets…to be used in light of the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.
According to Umali, DepEd is coordinating with LGU’s for laptops and gadgets donation.
“We are engaging with the [Department of Budget and Management] and the [Department of Interior and Local Government] to make use of [the Special Education Fund],” he said.
Despite the concerns raised, Gatchalian said the senators are in support of DepEd’s effort to continue delivering education despite pandemic.
“Nevertheless, we are in support of the distance learning modality because we love our children, we want them to learn at naniniwala kami na kahit na ganitong may pandemya, dapat tuloy-tuloy pa rin po ang pagtuturo (and we believe that teaching our students should continue despite the pandemic),” he said.
“Pero it’s really a big challenge for DepEd to make sure that on or before, actually before August 24, dapat lahat po ng materyales po natin at ‘yung training ng teachers are in place already,” he added.