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Fears over modular classes

The school year 2020-2021 for public basic education finally started on Oct. 5, but things are not all rosy as the Department of Education claims.

It is feared that the lack of devices and materials for online or modular classes could lead to a “lost generation,” said a national political party on Thursday.

In a statement, Ben Punongbayan, Chairman and Founder of Buklod, a national political party, said based on early observations, the teaching method being used to replace the face-to-face interaction between teacher and students, at least in the cities, was a combination of “modular” and online teaching.

Vice President Leni Robredo, meanwhile, on Thursday lamented the sorry state of public school teachers amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking before the Department of Education Region V’s Virtual National/World Teachers’ Day Celebration, she said: “Teachers are risking their life and limb exposing themselves to viruses. They even use money out of their pocket for bond papers and printers for printing the modules. This is so unfair.

“The others are lucky because they are under proactive local government units [who support them in funding the printing modules], but not everyone is similarly situated.”

Punongbayan says in some schools, the students are given hard copies of teaching modules that are picked up by the parents from the school premises. In other schools, the modules are sent through the cell phones of the parents who print them. The modules contain the reading materials and ordinary school supplies of the student.

The students follow a fixed duration of continuous class hours. The teacher goes on-line for lecture and student recitations. Generally, the screen time for students depends on the grade level as follows: one hour for kindergarten; 1.5 hours for Grade 1-5; two hours for Grade 6-8; and four hours for Grade 9-12.

To enable the students to participate, the students are given some means that quite likely vary from LGU [local government unit] to LGU, Punongbayan says.

Some LGUs provide tablets, but the devices being distributed are insufficient. Those students who do not get such hardware are instead given prepaid SIM cards but without cellphones, such students have to procure the cellphones by themselves.

Punongbayan says it is commendable that the government is doing something to continue the education of the young people under the current Covid-19 contagion.

However, there is clearly a very insufficient supply of hardware, such as cellphones, tablets and computers, for the use of students. This is aside from other infrastructure problems such as connectivity.

Such lack gives undue pressure on the parents to procure the necessary hardware. If they cannot afford to buy one, their children may have to drop out of school or find other alternatives to getting access to a learning hardware.

Topics: public basic education , Department of Education , online classes , modular classes , COVID-19 pandemic
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