Put Knowledge Channel back on air!

Days to the anniversary of then President Marcos’ declaration of Martial Law, the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Philippines denounces anew the Duterte regime’s shutting down of ABS-CBN network, with its education platform—Knowledge Channel—as had the dictator Marcos did 48 years ago.

In the spirit of upholding press freedom and the people’s right to information, and the media’s burgeoning role in education amid the pandemic, ACT supports the Knowledge Channel Foundation, Inc. in its bid to extend its services and resources to the Department of Education (DepEd) as the public education system shifts to remote learning in response to the pandemic.

Premiered in 1999, Knowledge Channel has since delivered quality educational content, developed in collaboration with the education agency, to millions of children and youth.

In its 21 years on air, it provided access to learning opportunities to 7.3 million households—up until the franchise renewal of its owner, the ABS-CBN Corporation, was denied by Congress early this year, following the President’s repeated public threats of shutting down the network.

Its household reach dramatically dropped to 1.8 million as the network went off-air, and may continue to plunge with the recent order from the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to recall its TV and radio frequencies.

The ill-equipped education system is already grappling with the requisites for distance learning modalities coupled with the development of materials in line with the streamlined K-12 curriculum called the Most Essential Learning Competencies (MELCs).

As such, we see no reason for the government to refuse Knowledge Channel’s offer to freely utilize its 1,500 professionally made educational videos based on the current curriculum that are available in various platforms: broadcast, portable media library, online sites, and KnowledgeTV.

These are valuable resources at this particularly trying time for the country’s education system, especially with the dearth of quality materials from DepEd, the little time we have before schools open, and the lack of substantial material support from the national government.

To deny the kind of service Knowledge Channel has to offer is to deny Filipino children and youth their fundamental right to accessible quality education especially at a time of pandemic.

The challenge for DepEd is to ensure that our children and youth benefit from the materials and services that Knowledge Channel can provide in keeping with its mandate to ensure learners’ enjoyment of their constitutional rights.

Such becomes even more crucial in the face of enormous threats against the people’s basic rights and freedoms, which include Duterte’s closing down of ABS-CBN.

It’s no coincidence that the only other President who did that was the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, serving as a pivotal step to ensure his 14-year dictatorship and plunder of the country’s resources.

With the martial law’s spectre continuing to haunt us in the form of tyrants like Duterte, DepEd is challenged to stand with the people in defending our democratic rights—impel the Duterte regime to prioritize the advancement of the people’s demands for safe, accessible, and quality education, instead of forwarding his and his cohorts’ political agenda and dictatorial dreams.