The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Philippines criticized the Department of Education Learning Support Aides (LSAs) program, based on the guidelines released by the agency, as its design will not provide the learning needs of the marginalized students in distance learning—the poorest learners who have no access to technology, who lack capable and available adult guidance at home, and who cannot learn independently.
“The LSA program does not really provide learning opportunities for the most disadvantaged as by DepEd design, LSAs have no teaching function, and will simply assist teachers in class management and clerical work. While other students have learning opportunities via online class, phone-based consultations, and home tutorials, the most marginalized will remain wanting of somebody to teach them the contents of the modules,” explained Raymond Basilio, ACT Secretary-General. Basilio also questioned the viability of the program given the unreliable fund sources identified for hiring LSAs, as well as the long and arduous hiring process set by DepEd.
The guidelines identified the Special Education Fund, local government funds, DepEd division office Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE), local school MOOE, and DepEd special project funds or support from private sector, as fund sources in order of priority.
“We are afraid that this program will go nowhere as instead of allocating funds for it, the DepEd is again passing on to LGUs and local schools the task of financing LSA salaries when these funds have already been drained for modules, devices, and school safety supplies. Moreover, LSAs could be too late the hero to prevent the rapid dropping out of unattended learners given the laborious hiring process set by DepEd,” said Basilio.
He also said that the guidelines are violative of the teachers’ basic right to just compensation as it mainly targets professional teachers but would only pay salaries at minimum wage levels.
“Our professional teachers will essentially be relegated in this program, when in fact they have the capability and training to really teach the marginalized students and has the right to be compensated accordingly,” stressed Basilio.
In place of the LSA program, ACT pushes for the hiring of 100,000 community tutors who are teachers that will conduct community-based learning to service the most marginalized students.
The group asserts that these community tutors should be paid Teacher I level salaries.