Senator Risa Hontiveros on Thursday asked the Department of Education (DepEd) to provide laptops or internet-capable devices and WiFi allowance to public school teachers if it plans to push through with the opening of classes on August 24 this year.
“Huwag nating piliting gumastos ang mga guro para makapagturo,” Hontiveros said in a statement after DepEd’s announcement of ‘blended-learning’ classes despite the lack of technological preparations made for teachers. DepEd previously announced that it will be using a ‘blended-learning method’ in which both students and teachers rely on various technologies such as online classes, and television and radio stations.
“Responsibilidad at gastos dapat ng DepEd ang mga ito,” the Senator said, pointing out that teachers have been requesting DepEd to provide for these requirements.
Hontiveros also questioned DepEd’s proposal to have teachers enter into loans with the Government Insurance Service System (GSIS) for laptops worth P20,000.00 or less. The payment of these loans will be debited from the teachers’ salaries.
“This is a non-solution that is grossly unfair and impractical. DepEd should find ways to provide for these laptops and allowance for free. Imbes na pautang, dapat libreng suporta,” she said. “Yung mga sundalo ba natin, pinagbabayad ba natin sila para sa baril nila?” Hontiveros pointed out.
Instead, Hontiveros said that the Special Education Fund (SEF) provided to LGUs could be utilized to provide Wi-Fi allowances to teachers and to loan necessary equipment to them for free. She said DepEd must refine its coordination with LGUs to effectively and efficiently utilize the SEF to respond to the needs of teachers.
The Senator also appealed to DepEd to review the agency’s preparedness to resume classes in August. “There shouldn’t be a ‘race to August’. Failure to properly execute education plans will further widen our inequality gap,” Hontiveros explained.
Hontiveros acknowledged that the problem of education in a ‘new normal’ goes beyond the internet. “We have a long way to go in terms of the availability, affordability and reliability of internet access for the overwhelming majority of our teachers. That is part of our work plan at the Senate,” she said. “DepEd must ensure that teachers and students are synchronized with each other for these changes to be effective.”