By Joseph Cuevas
The Department of Education (DepEd) announced last Friday, August 14, the postponement of school opening originally set on August 24, 2020 to October 5, 2020.
According to DepEd, the memorandum given by the Office of the President to defer school opening to October 5 is pursuant to Republic Act No. 11480.
DepEd will use the deferment to provide relief to the logistical limitations faced by the areas placed under Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine and to fill in the remaining gaps of the school opening it is currently addressing.
The Alliance of Concerned Teachers ACT said that DepEd’s decision was brought about by “very valid and sound arguments which the agency can no longer deny.”
“We have proven today that the people’s voices can and will triumph, and we shall continue to push the government to fulfill the requisites for a safe, accessible, and quality education,” ACT said in a statement.
The group added that preparedness at the minimum means a 1:1 module set to pupil ratio ready for distribution by August 24, a 1:1 ratio of laptop to teachers, internet subsidy to teachers and learners, health screening and PPEs for teachers, and medical fund for free treatment if they get infected with COVID-19.
ACT said it received complaints from school heads about the late release of funds from the DepEd Central office as well as depleted school funds for module printing.
The central office only released funds and utilization guidelines for module reproduction on the latter half of July, ACT said.
Many school heads said that the P9 billion downloaded funds from the central office have not yet reached the school level resulting in the failure to deliver the needed modules any day earlier than October given the stringent procurement rules and lengthy processes, the group added.
ACT said that DepEd has not given any assistance to teachers specifically responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, noting that they are not asking beyond “hard-won and hard-earned benefits and entitlements of personnel, as well as already apportioned funds even before the health crisis.”
October 5 falls on International Teachers Day.
Better aid, wage subsidy for private school teachers
ACT-Private Schools also called on the government to support displaced private school teachers and personnel nationwide as the House of Representatives is set to finalize the Bayanihan to Recover As One Act (BARO) Part 2.
ACT-Private Schools secretary-general Jonathan Geronimo said that even with a one-time cash assistance of five to eight thousand pesos will not rectify the past six months of state neglect, and will not at all suffice to cover their needs.
Geronimo challenged the Rodrigo Duterte administration to help educators, particularly the “long ignored private education sector nationwide” by granting a decent amount covering the months of COVID-19 lockdowns.
ACT Private Schools demanded the following:
(1) Better and more dignified aid,
(2) wage subsidy to teachers and staff,
(3) zero-interest loans for small to medium-sized private schools to sustain their operations, and
(4) an allocation of funds for the health and safety of private school teachers and personnel. #