SENATOR Francis Tolentino urged the Department of Education (DepEd) to postpone the opening of classes from August to October or even later, saying the new law, Rep. Act No. 11480, enables the agency to do so.
He reminded the agency that they have only 168 hours to craft the implementing rules and regulations of the law in order to fully carry it out.
Tolentino proposed the rescheduling of the start of school during the Senate hearing on basic education in light of public sentiments on the challenges of distance education and on-line learning which the department has yet to adequately address.
He is proposing instead to regionalize the opening of classes, with high risk areas to start school if permitted by the health situation.
“Our common and ultimate goal is the protection of our learners. There is no disagreement on that. However, different localities have varying health circumstances, and hence will need varying approaches in the delivery of education. It will be wise perhaps for DepEd to consider opening classes on a per regional health and connectivity situation basis. Not only will students’ health and safety be safeguarded, but as well as the welfare of teachers who will be forced to deliver the modules to students’ homes or at the very least report to school for the distribution of modules to parents. I am asking DepEd to prudently adhere with the provisions of RA 11480.”
The lawmaker points out that RA 11480, which was signed into law on July 17, allows the President, upon the recommendation of the Education Secretary, to set a different date for the start of the school year in the event of an emergency or calamity.
DepEd’s readiness for school opening remains in question as the issue on connectivity and access to tools for learning have not been settled even with barely two weeks from the target date of opening. Modules have yet to be completed, not to mention the challenges of local government units saddled with the burden of reproducing these modules for learners within their jurisdiction.
Tolentino adds: “Forcing schools to open this August will only defeat the purpose of education. Let us accept the fact that we are not fully ready, and it will not be wise, to simultaneously open School Year 2020-2021. Let those areas with low health risk, those that are ready with learning modules, and areas not hampered by quarantine restrictions begin classes using whatever modality is best to ensure public health and safety."
"Areas with higher health risks should be allowed to start the school year at a later date, as even the parents’ livelihood are also affected. Not only will postponement of school opening favor teachers and learners. The prevailing health, livelihood, and internet connectivity situations should all be considered by Deped,” he added.