The same problems that plagued the previous school year under distance learning haunt the upcoming one, the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Philippines found in its nationwide online survey among public school teachers.
ACT conducted a School Preparedness Survey aimed to assess the readiness of public schools for the September 13 class opening and released its analysis on September 9, 2021. The survey was conducted among 3,820 public school teachers (2,902 from Metro Manila and 918 from the remaining regions in the country) from August 23 to 31, 2021.
“Education access and quality is expected to continually suffer, while learning loss is unlikely to be circumvented seeing as how the education sector is set be greeted by similar problems observed in the first school year of distance learning,” said ACT.
Similar problems are the late printing of and insufficient modules, lack of gadgets and internet support, excessive workload and study load, and wanting school safety measures, as were observed in the last school year.
“Teachers, once again, are expected to bear the brunt of the government’s abandonment of education as their overworked and under-supported situation is expected to intensify in the coming school year,” said the group.
The survey found out that:
- Only four out of every 10 respondents in NCR said gadgets will be provided for their students and only one of them said that the provision will be adequate. Outside the NCR, only one in ten respondents said that gadgets will be provided to students.
- Only 4% of respondents from NCR and 0.5% outside NCR said that there is enough internet support for their students.
- Mental health support is also wanting, as only 50% of NCR respondents and 44% of respondents outside NCR were certain that their schools have programs to assist students whose mental health have been affected by the changes brought about by the pandemic and distance learning.
- About 53% of respondents from NCR, and 68% of those from other regions said that they will still be using their own laptops for work this coming school year.
- Meanwhile, 6% of respondents from NCR and 9% from other regions said that they have no laptop to use in the coming school year.
- Only about 13% of respondents in NCR and 14% in other regions were certain that their schools have recently received laptop units from the DepEd
- Smart sim cards subscribed to 349 plan does not cover internet costs, with only 11% of the respondents in the NCR and 18% outside NCR said that the provision sufficiently addresses their needs.
- Majority of the respondents nationwide, at 72% in NCR at 67% in other regions, said that they were not given enough opportunity to rest since the last school year closed in July 10, 2021, continuing work demands and preparations for school opening.
- About 38% of the respondents in the NCR and 49% in other regions said that they busy for soliciting school supplies from private entities under the Brigada Eskwela program.
- In regions outside the NCR, 77% of the respondents were required to clean classrooms and school premises.
- About 36% of respondents from NCR and 41% in other regions said that they are given more than six-teaching load for the coming school year.
- Outside NCR, with 94% of respondents said they are required to report to school during class days in the coming school year. Among them, 76% of them are directed to come to school two or more times in a week.
- In the NCR, 40% of the respondents are required to physically report to schools, the largest portion (30%) of which is instructed to come to school once a week.
Dismal provision of resources and support to learners
On the whole, printed modules will remain to be the widely used modality in the second year of the Department of Education’s distance learning program while President Duterte’s ban on re-opening any basic education school in the country remains firmly in place.
Outside NCR, 97% will use printed modules, while other modalities such as online classes, digital modules, or TV-radio based learning each did not surpass the 25%-mark. In the National Capital Region (NCR), 81% will employ synchronous online classes. The use of printed modules (69%) is only second to synchronous online classes among those from NCR. A third of teachers in NCR and outside NCR said printed modules remain insufficient to the number of their students.
The group said TV and radio-based instruction will continue to be hardly utilized, with only 14% of the respondents from NCR and 10% from other regions saying that such will be used in their classes.
DepEd’s announcement of having produced 1,400 episodes for DepEd TV and radio only shows a huge backlog in terms of producing the needed TV and radio materials, as about 4,000 episodes each for TV and radio needs to be created to cover all the weekly lessons of students from kinder to senior high school.
“Provision of gadgets and internet support for learners remains very scant, especially in regions outside of NCR, despite DepEd’s push for the use of digital modules and asynchronous and synchronous online learning modalities,” ACT said.
Under-supported teaching needs
Similar to students’ situation, ACT said “teachers are expected to once again bear the brunt of the government’s insufficient and unresponsive measures to provide for vital teaching and work inputs.”
DepEd announced the procurement of 68,500 units of laptops for the use of teachers through allocated funds from the Bayanihan 2 Law. This number is sorely insufficient, according to ACT, as there are close to one million public school teachers and DepEd’s distribution plan showed that only about 70% of these laptops will actually be distributed to teachers, while the remaining units will be used in DepEd offices.
“Worse, the survey shows that said laptops have not been received in the majority of schools nationwide,” said ACT.
The group also hit the DepEd’s decision provide teachers in July 2021 with Smart sim cards subscribed to the network’s 349 data plan which will give teachers a daily 1 gigabyte of data for use in selected apps, and 4 gigabytes of shareable data per month. A third of the respondents from NCR and from outside NCR said they can hardly utilize the sim cards due to Smart’s weak signal/reception in their location. The group has called for Php1,500 monthly internet allowance.
Teachers also have not had enough time to rest as the previous school year closed in July 10, 2021 and the next one is to open on September 13. In the months of July and August, teachers have been complying with continuing work demands from DepEd and then their duties for school opening, including remote or physical enrolment of students and printing of modules.
Teacher-respondents said they were also made to perform tasks outside their regular duties, such as soliciting school supplies from private entities and cleaning classrooms and school premises.
One-third in NCR and almost half of respondents from outside NCR said they will be given a heavier teaching load in the coming school year.
ACT said public school teachers have already rendered 87 days of overtime work in the previous school year that remains uncompensated.
Physical reporting of teachers in schools is a rampant practice in regions outside NCR despite wanting school substantial safety measures.
Practice of physical distancing, provision of school health supplies and filling up of health declaration forms are widely observed both in the NCR and other regions. Safe transportation is relatively available in other regions compared to the NCR. However, the availability of equipped school clinic, a school nurse, a contact tracing mechanism, free personal health supplies, conduct of health check and treatment support are inadequate.
One year after
Both respondents from NCR and outside NCR said most problems from last school year – taxing parental duties, burdensome academic requirements and health load, and insufficient learning and teaching resources and health protection – were insufficiently addressed.
“The problems experienced are borne out of the Duterte government’s over-all lack of genuine appreciation of the importance of education continuity amid the pandemic, and the absence of a clear roadmap and direction as to how schools can be safely re-opened despite the pandemic,” said ACT.
ACT pressed the Duterte administration to implement the following measures:
- Roll out a clear plan for the immediate safe conduct of limited and voluntary in-classroom learning in zero-case and low-risk areas, and the roadmap to the eventual safe reopening of schools across the country
- Provide the needed teaching and learning resources for distance learning – laptops to all teachers, appropriate gadgets to all learners, P1,500 monthly internet allowance to teachers and internet subsidy to learners-in-need, adequate printed modules, etc.
- Ensure the provision of health protection and payment of just benefits to education workers – free annual medical check-up, 15-day sick leave, grant hazard pay, overtime pay and overload pay, set up medical fund for education workers who get infected with COVID-19
- Allocate higher budget to education in 2022 – fund the needs for safe school reopening and blended learning, aid for education workers and students, etc.
- Implement genuine academic ease – reduce hours for synchronous classes, hire non-teaching personnel to free teachers of ancillary duties, adopt more appropriate learner assessment and grading systems, etc.