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Party-list group opts postponement of classes set to open in August

Special on Saturday with Cesar Chavez and guest Ang Probinsyano Partylist Rep. Ronnie Ong

MANILA—Expressing reservation on the learning method that the Department of Education (DepED) plans to employ while the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, a party-list group wants to postpone the opening of classes in August amidst foreseen problems in its implementation.

Ang Probinsyano Party-list Rep. Ronnie Ong shared on Saturday to Cesar Chavez in the DZRH program Special On Saturday (SOS) their position to cancel the opening of classes in August because of the problems in infrastructure (Internet service) and gadgets in the provinces.

“Tayo po ay may reservations dahil sa sistemang mangyayari (We have reservations on the system to be employed) since it is new for everyone,” Ong said.

He gave credit to Metro Manila mayors like Manila Mayor Isko Domagoso Moreno who has already prepared for the blended learning system by procuring gadgets to be used by students and teachers but he lamented that this is not so in the provinces.

Ong said the DepEd issued already the standard gadgets to be used in the new learning method but the reality is that there are parents who are experiencing economic difficulties because they have lost their jobs at the same time that they have several children studying.

“If we go to the so-called blended learning system which will be using radio and television, it seems impossible. Let us not talk about it because it will really be difficult,” he said.

Ong said that to go into blended learning method, Sorsogon alone needs at least P300 million to buy books and gadgets, according to Sorsogon Gov. Francis “Chiz” Escudero.

He said that not all teachers and students can afford gadgets especially that the DepEd has its specific technical requirements to do online education.

Ong also questions the quality of education using the new methods in learning which he said could result in students with below standard educational training but promoted to the next grade level.

He reiterated their position to postpone the opening of classes in August until the situation becomes normal until next year.

But Ong said he is also open for the classes to begin in September or October for as long as everybody is ready and prepared for the new method of learning.

He said that some private schools will be opening their classes but the DepEd has yet to issue concrete guidelines regarding the present situation wherein some will be doing online.

“There is a school in San Juan that announced that ‘no tuition fee increase’ but no discount. How will that be? If you see the breakdown, there are still laboratory fees, class picture, uniform, ID,” Ong said, emphasizing the lack of discount even though the classes are to be conducted online.

However, the DepEd has changed its original plan to employ “blended learning method” to “distance learning method” to teach young learners in the public schools, Undersecretary Nepomuceno Malaluan, DepEd spokesperson, said in the DZRH program SOS on May 30, 2020.

“We have changed the learning method at present times following the policy preference of the President who absolutely disallowed children going out to school until a vaccine against COVID-19 is available,” Malaluan said.

He explained that the original plan of the DepEd was the blended learning method which employs teaching young learners through a combination of remote and face-to-face learning.

Malaluan said the DepEd changed the blended learning method into a distant learning method and discarded the face-to-face learning using printed modules to be picked up in designated areas, digital offline modules, online resource, educational television and radio-based instructions.

He said the distance learning system will be finalized before August comes.

Malaluan said the DepEd has already conducted survey among 700,087 teachers for distant learning system wherein they were asked if they own digital gadgets and online platforms, in which, he said 87 percent answered they have desktop or laptop at home, while 13 percent of them have no computer at home.

He said 49 percent have online connectivity among the 87 percent of surveyed teachers who own desktop or laptop at home.

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