Youth pummels DepEd’s plans to extend distance learning, insists on free, mass vaccination

Activist youth organization Samahan ng Progresibong Kabataan (SPARK) slammed the Department of Education (DepEd) for considering an extension of distance learning until the next school year given the spike of COVID-19 cases in the country.

“The DepEd proposal to extend blended learning without addressing the gaps we have been pointing out for over a year, is plain stupidity and will achieve nothing but the prolonging of our hardships.” said the group’s spokesperson for junior and senior high school affairs, Justin Dizon.

In a briefing with the media DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones said, “Ngayon, multiple levels ang planning natin. Nagpaplano tayo kung ganito ang sitwasyon, kung tatagal ang Covid; nagpaplano tayo kung halimbawa ma-control na natin ang Covid at magbubukas na talaga ang eskuwelahan.”

The group likewise questioned DepEd as to why this multi-level planning has only been done now when students have been suffering from the Department;s haphazard implementation of distance learning.

“This should have been done last year. All they did then was to insist that ‘we are ready’ and later on claim “victory”. They pointed out that the statement of Briones whether she agrees to it or not is “an admission of their failure to make education accessible, cost-free and more importantly, less toxic than it is presently”.

“There is no logic in the multiple scenario planning being done by the DepEd when it has remained silent on the most basic of all antidotes to the problems that have risen under an education scheme in the time of a pandemic, the free, mass vaccination of all students,” Dizon urged.

“We strongly condemn the deafening silence of the education officials when it comes to the mass vaccination of the youth. The agencies must be true to their mandate by making education safe and accessible for all, and the only way to do it is inoculate all students before proceeding to face-to-face classes,” he argued.

The group challenged Secretary Briones to once and for all speak on the issue of mass vaccination of students; instead of turning them into guinea pigs and left to their families’ own devices once infected by Covid. SPARK has organized multiple campaigns regarding distance learning. Earlier this month, they released a unity statement together with other various youth organizations and student leaders to call for free mass vaccination and proper implementation and safe conduct of face-to-face classes.