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To teach or not to teach

President Duterte thumbs down resumption of classes sans vaccine

Neil Alcober

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A teachers’ group welcomed the latest pronouncement of President Rodrigo Duterte that classes will remain suspended until a vaccine against coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is made available.

Basas noted that the Department of Education (DepEd) should now focus on its plans to deliver alternative modes of learning even without a formal declaration of class opening.

“While we recognize that there are other modes of teaching and learning aside from physical schooling, still, the President’s pronouncement last night is very much welcome,” Benjo Basas, chair of Teachers’ Dignity Coalition (TDC), said in a statement.

“There will also be more time to train our teachers’ technical capacity and other skills to cope with new normal.”

Basas also said Congress may now start the process of amending the law that mandates class opening within June to August.

“Again, while education is necessary, health and safety of our children should be the top priority,” he added.

The Federation of Associations of Private School Administrators (FAPSA), however, offered a different view.

“The government should include going back to private schools among the options. It is for those who can still stretch the budget and afford tuition fees after all, FAPSA president Eleazardo Kasilag said in a separate statement. “We are afraid that should the government decide to dissolve this school year or declare a yearlong holiday surely this shall affect FAPSA preparation for online distance education.”

Kasilag said the government can extend GASTPE (Government Assistance to Students and Teachers in Private Education) to elementaty and pre-school kids.

“There is no problem for Junior High School and Senior High School because voucher is there already,” added Kasilag.

“I will not allow the opening of classes na magdikit-dikit iyang mga bata na ‘yan. Bahala na hindi na makatapos.  Unless I am sure that they are really safe.  Para sa akin, bakuna muna,” Duterte said in his weekly public address on Monday night.

Kasilag said they believe that extended class suspension triggers lifelong harm.

“We cannot wait for the vaccine for it may never come soon. There is no vaccine yet for MERS-COV nor SARS. There is no known cure yet for HIV or Bubonic plague and we just outgrown them,” he said.

“Our government leaders should understand that our pupils might get used to vacation and lose interest in anything academic. We have Mt. Pinatubo lava for years; our kids’ studies were continued. Taal Volcano erupted months ago, even in evacuation camps; our kids still went to school. During the wars, we studied. Ngayon, COVID-19, nasa bahay lang naman, home-based learning, takot tayo?” he asked.

Kasilag also stressed that if the public school teachers are bent on not coming back to schools sine qua non, “then it is time to come back to private schools.”

“But let us limit the academic to major subjects only to facilitate learning. We are not raising our tuition fees, we can accommodate enrollees on installment basis, our e-Learning does not require baon, transportation, uniform, heavy bags, no books just modules, no face-to-face, even without Saturday classes, and certainly no virus, we guarantee that,” Kasilag added.

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