Less than 50 days into class opening, DepEd presents disappointing updates on preps

The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Philippines expressed disappointment with the school opening preparations reported by the Department of Education (DepEd) during the agency’s press conference yesterday.

The group said that DepEd’s bid to ‘appear prepared by presenting the supposed partnerships’ it has forged with various government agencies and private corporations only shows ‘how behind the agency is in fulfilling the requirements of its learning continuity plan (LCP) and how still unclear the mechanics are of blended learning, 48 days before the set start of classes on August 24.

“DepEd is talking as if it is still the month of May. Mukhang laway pa lang ang naipupuhunan ng central office sa ating paghahanda. The vital matters it should have been reporting at this point are:

the percentage of divisions who have approved modules for all grade levels and subjects, the status of their printing, and training of teachers on how to teach these modules under the blended mode;

the number of hours of TV and radio broadcast clinched for LCP materials and amount of prepared materials for this mode;

the number of schools which have been installed with internet connection;

the number of gadgets ready for distribution to teachers and learners; and the status of the installation of health measures in schools among others,” criticized ACT Secretary General Raymond Basilio.

Basilio underscored that the agency has yet to explain how its own funds will be used to operationalize the LCP, and the President’s funding commitment for the school opening, if any.

“All we heard is a litany on partnerships with government agencies and private companies, as well as its hype on soliciting for the needs of the LCP even from crisis-beaten families through Brigada Eskwela. It unabashedly flaunted its efforts to beg for support and say that its funds are not enough but did not bother to explain how the billions of agency funds will be used,” raised Basilio.

The group also slammed the agency for ‘trying to ‘massage’ public expectations with its ‘unapologetic admission that millions of children will be left behind,’ saying that enrollment is ultimately the parents’ prerogative, especially as the agency has ‘offered all the options it can give.

ACT also noted of DepEd’s quip that it cannot deliver fully the requirements of its learning continuity plan as new challenges will come up as the school opening nears.

“Leaving behind 5 million students at the least and passing the blame on parents who are deeply suffering in crisis is a grave matter as it only shows how the public education is turning its back on the children it should be serving the most. Equally worrisome is the department’s nonchalant attitude towards the probability of not being able to sufficiently prepare for the school opening,” expressed Basilio.

The group also expressed disappointment over the agency’s ‘apparent intolerance to criticisms and differing views,’ arguing the merits of their demands and concerns, and asserting their right to be heard and actually be included in the process of crafting and implementing the government’s education program amid the pandemic and worsening economic crisis.

“Instead of dismissing our criticisms and the alternatives we forward as mere nuisances, a more productive use of DepEd’s time and energy can be dedicated to holding dialogues with our organization, where we can engage in discussions and crafting of plans and programs attuned to the realities on the ground. It’s harder to conjure unfounded and inaccurate accusations against the legitimacy of our unions and demands, than it is to actually listen and respond to our concerns,” urged Basilio.

ACT explained that their misgivings with the LCP starts with its framework that ‘do not fully recognize the abnormality of the situation that the pandemic brought in, only seeing that the posed problems are limited to the delivery modes of education.’

“It cannot be overstated that we are in a pandemic situation and in deep economic crisis, and the duty that behooves the educational system is how it will be instrumental in helping our people survive and surmount these difficult times. DepEd has to think beyond the framework of formal education and beyond the confines of its usual duties under normal times, if that’s what it takes to make education respond to the needs of our people,” explained Basilio.

ACT expressed the group’s willingness to work with the agency to re-assess the decision to push through with the LCP, and craft a more responsive and relevant education program amid the pandemic.

“Calling for ‘Bayanihan’ should be partnered with democratic governance. Bayanihan does not mean blindly following the out-of-touch dictates from top officials. The true essence of Bayanihan lies in the collective effort of all concerned sectors in designing and implementing a program responsive to their collective needs and capacities, which will only be possible through the undertaking of democratic processes,” concluded Basilio.