Amid Covid-19 crisis: Utilize technology to prepare alternative modes of teaching, learning — Bong Go to education sector

As the threats of COVID-19 continue to reduce physical mobility and highlight the importance of preparing for the “new normal”, Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go has recommended to the education sector to innovate on ways on how to conduct teaching and learning while adhering to the physical distancing protocols and other measures set by the government to curb the spread of COVID-19.

“Pag-isipan na po natin paano makakapag-aral ang mga kabataan na may social distancing at iba pang mga hakbang na ipapatupad depende sa sitwasyon sa mga lugar nila,” Go said.

The Senator reminded concerned agencies and educational institutions to guide students in preparation for the next school year considering that classes are supposed to resume as early as August while the whole world is still trying to put an end to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Hindi pa natin alam kung ano ang mangyayari sa susunod na mga buwan. Sinisikap po natin na ma-flatten na ang curve at matapos na ang krisis na ito. Pero hindi pa rin tayo dapat maging kampante kaya importanteng may precautionary measures pa rin in place para hindi na muling kumalat ang sakit,” Go said.

“Paghandaan natin kung papaano magpapatuloy ang ating pamumuhay sa panahon ng ‘new normal’. Maglatag na po tayo ng kailangang policies and protocols. Siguraduhin nating makapag-aral ang kabataan habang patuloy nating nilalabanan ang COVID-19,” he added.

Go is encouraging educational institutions to explore possible online or distance learning programs for students to be able to continue their studies without putting them at harm or adding burden to then and their families given the challenges of the post COVID-19 situation.

“Hindi naman po pwedeng tumigil ang kanilang pag-aaral,” Go said, adding that “schools must also prepare their facilities and lay down protocols in preparation for the possible scenarios that students, teachers and education personnel will face when classes resume.”

Go also urged the private sector, particularly telecommunication companies and media networks, to help the education sector by allowing their platforms to be used for educational purposes.

“Gamitin ang teknolohiya na available para sa distance learning tulad ng pagkakaroon ng virtual classrooms. May airtime rin na allotted for educational programs ayon sa batas, pwede po itong gamitin bilang alternative mode of teaching and learning,” he said.

Go was referring to RA 8370 or the Children’s Television Act of 1997 which states that “a minimum of fifteen percent (15%) of the daily total air time of each broadcasting network shall be allotted for child-friendly shows within the regular programming of all networks granted franchises or as a condition for renewal of broadcast licenses hereinafter, to be included as part of the network’s responsibility of serving the public.”

Meanwhile, Go also mentioned that in order to successfully implement the Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa (BP2) Program, the government must be able to further improve the education system nationwide and assure that schools in the provinces can accommodate more students.

“Ihanda na natin ang mga probinsya dahil marami pong pamilya ang gustong umuwi na pagkatapos ng krisis na ito. Isa sa dapat ikonsidera ay ang kahandaan ng mga eskwelahan at ibang learning institutions sa mga lilipat na estudyante,” Go explained.

Go said that the education system in rural areas must be enhanced to prepare for the transfer of students. Aside from the physical facilities of schools, Go said that a thorough review of teaching strategies based on new technology and availability of the internet for E-learning must be considered.

“Kapag maganda ang education system sa iba’t ibang rehiyon sa bansa, mas makakaenganyo ito sa mga pamilya na umuwi sa kanilang probinsya,” Go explained.

“Marami naman pong magagaling na eskwelahan sa iba’t ibang parte ng bansa. Pruweba rito ang resulta ng 2020 Bar exams kung saan ‘probinsyano’ ang karamihan na nasa Top 10… Patunay ito na kung patuloy nating ayusin pa ang kalidad ng edukasyon sa mga lalawigan, hindi na kailangang lumuwas ng Kamaynilaan para mag-aral,” Go added.

Go encouraged the Department of Education, Commission on Higher Education, and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority to work together and continue improving the quality and capacity of schools nationwide.

Go has expressed his appreciation for DepEd’s efforts of laying out the Basic Education – Learning Continuity Plan (BE-LCP) to ensure that learning among Filipino students continues amid the global pandemic. The BE-LCP has been approved and adopted by the Inter-Agency Task Force after consultation with partner institutions and organizations.

The adjustments under this comprehensive continuity plan cover the K-to-12 curriculum. It aligns learning materials, provides various modalities of delivery, and includes teacher and parent/guardian training for homeschooling.

With school opening scheduled on August 24, the DepEd said that schools may be allowed to hold physical classes as long as they meet the requirements set by proper authorities, both national and local. These include measures to ensure the health and safety of students, the teachers, and the non-teaching personnel in educational institutions.

Go also commended the DepEd for its “Sulong EduKalidad” initiative. Launched last December, “Sulong EduKalidad” involves reforms to achieve quality in basic education in “response to the rapidly changing learning environment of present and future learners and will introduce aggressive reforms to globalize the quality of basic education in the Philippines.”

To reduce physical contact among students and teaching personnel once the school year has opened, DepEd is also preparing guidelines that could limit the number of students to fifteen to twenty per classroom.

However, Go noted that this will pose challenges given the limited number of classrooms and teachers in the country. He appealed that funding must be made available for the construction and repair of school facilities.

Last year, Go filed Senate Bill No. 396 seeking to amend Section 272 of the Local Government Code of 1991 by expanding the application of the Special Education Fund taken from the additional 1% on real property tax.

If this proposed measure is passed into law, LGUs will be allowed to utilize their SEF to further improve education facilities such as for the operation and maintenance of public schools; construction and repair of school buildings and libraries, facilities and equipment; payment of salaries, allowances and other benefits of teaching and non-teaching personnel; competency trainings for teaching personnel; operation of Alternative Learning System; among others.

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