Senator and Senate Finance Committee vice chair Christopher “Bong” Go has expressed his support for the budget proposal of the Department of Education (DepEd) during the Senate Committee on Finance hearing held on Friday, 25 September.
In his manifestation, Go called on schools and other educational institutions to adhere to President Rodrigo Duterte’s directive to postpone face-to-face classes until a vaccine for COVID-19 becomes available in the country.
The senator stressed the importance of ensuring the health and safety of the students, teachers and wider community as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to plague the nation.
“Ang pera naman po ay kikitain ‘yan, pero ang perang kikitain ay hindi mabibili ang buhay na mawawala. Huwag nating pilitin kung hindi pa kaya. Mas lalong dadami ang mga magpopositibo na kaso kung hindi natin paghahandaan ng mabuti ang pagbabalik ng mga guro at mag-aaral sa eskwelahan,” he said.
(Money can be earned but it cannot buy lives that will be lost. Let us not force it if we can’t. There will be more positive cases if we don’t prepare well for the return of teachers and students in schools.)
Go, however, agreed that the education of the students can no longer be put on a standstill. He urged DepEd and other concerned authorities to exert more effort in improving further the digital educational system while face-to-face classes remain prohibited.
The Senator commended their efforts but urged their endeavors remain flexible and adaptable to the different needs and situations of their students. He reminded DepEd to ensure that schools are ready for the opening of classes on 5 October through blended learning techniques.
Furthermore, he commended DepEd for recognizing the pandemic’s mental toll on people, and for taking the necessary steps to address the needs and concerns of the students, their parents and the teaching and non-teaching personnel.
According to Go, psychological concerns must be taken into consideration when drafting programs and policies for the upcoming school year.
On that note, he asked teachers to focus on their goal to educate students and refrain from putting unnecessary pressure. He expressed empathy for the challenges students are facing, adding that he too is not immune from experiencing unreliable internet connection.
“Let us not pressure our children learners, if possible. Huwag po muna natin silang ibagsak dahil talagang ‘yung iba po ay pressured, minsan pumupunta po sa bundok makakuha lang po ng signal, lalung-lalo na po kapag hindi sila nakakasagot dahil walang signal. Kawawa naman po sila, napi-pressure po ‘yung bata, malaking epekto po iyon sa kanila. Ang importante po, walang masayang na taon. Ang importante po matuto sila,” said Go.
(Let’s not fail them because they are pressured moreso when they can’t answer because there is no signal. Sometimes, they climb a mountain to get signal. They are pitiable and that has a big effect on them. The important thing is there is no wasted year and they learn.)
He also lamented about poor internet connectivity, urging private internet providers to improve their services.
“Ako nga rin po… hirap din po sa paghanap ng signal para sa internet. Minsan kinakailangan pang lumabas ng bahay para gumanda or umayos ang koneksyon, ito po sana ang iniiwasan natin para sa ating mga kabataan na lumabas pa at doon po posibleng makakakuha sila ng sakit kapag sila ay lumabas na,” he said.
“Sa lahat po ng internet providers, kung gusto niyo talagang tumulong, ngayon na po. Ayusin niyo po ang inyong mga internet connectivity,” he appealed.
The senator expressed his support to provide DepEd and its attached agencies with enough resources to effectively and efficiently perform their functions during such a very uncertain and trying time.
“Magbayanihan po tayong lahat upang makapagbigay ng agaran at kalidad na serbisyo sa ating mga mag-aaral,” he said.
Earlier this year, Go asked government to bridge the gaps in the delivery of education without imposing unnecessary mental, emotional and financial stress on Filipino families. He specifically encouraged the Department of Information and Communications Technology and other relevant agencies to work together to fulfill the vision of providing universal internet access that is both stable and affordable for all Filipinos.
“Siguraduhin natin na may pantay-pantay na oportunidad ang mga bata na makapag-aral kahit saan mang parte ng bansa sila naroon at anumang estado nila sa buhay. Bigyan din natin ng konsiderasyon ang marami nating kababayan na walang pambili ng kagamitan, walang access sa internet at walang pambayad sa matrikula at iba pang gastusin dahil nawalan ng trabaho ang pamilya dulot ng epekto ng pandemya,” said Go.
He also called on DepEd and the private sector to work in partnership in order to make sure that all schools and families are adequately trained and equipped to use the new digital learning platforms.
“Importante rin masigurong handa ang mga teachers natin. Kailangan handa sila na gumamit ng mga makabagong paraan para masigurong hindi makompromiso ang matututunan ng mga bata.”