Senate Basic Education Committee chair Sherwin Gatchalian announced that the Department of Education (DepEd) plans to release ‘stopgap’ education modules for blended learning on July 15. This will solve the problem of students not having internet access, the government agency said.
It can be recalled that the Senate held a committee inquiry regarding the state of preparedness that the country has in terms of using the internet for what the DepEd calls as ‘blended learning’. However, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) quickly proved the state of the country’s internet after its representative was unable to join the teleconference due to poor internet signal!
With so many students not having access to the internet or even gadgets to use, the DepEd plans to use other learning methods to ensure that the school year could still continue despite the COVID-19 crisis.
According to Gatchalian, aside from the printed learning materials, TV and radio modules could be an effective ‘stopgap’ measure for those without internet access.
“That [internet] privilege is not available to 85 percent of our population. The best next alternative is radio… ‘Yun ang puwede natin ibigay for now. The solutions are not perfect. The outcome may not be perfect but we have to start from somewhere. We have to do something,” the senator explained.
Gatchalian added that although there is clearly an advantage held by students with internet connection and gadgets, those who don’t have any won’t be left so far behind. Instead of simply doing an ‘academic freeze’ like some sectors wanted, this blended or distance learning plan would be a better option, he added.
Even President Rodrigo Duterte supports this plan, announcing that transistor radios will be provided to students in far-flung areas.
Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto opposes this plan, however, claiming that textbooks are far better options than transistor radios!
“Kung wala na ngang laptop, wala pang signal, tapos wala pang libro, eh paano na ang mga bata? If we can print money, why can’t we print books? Kung may perang pang transistor radios, dapat mayroon ding pang libro,” Recto argued.
He admitted, though, that printing textbooks would be a big challenge amid the pandemic and the fact that DepEd’s budget allocated for such materials was slashed, with the money used for government expenses related to COVID-19.