Is Education Secretary Leonor Briones insensitive?
This was the question asked by netizens and school officials following her now viral advice to them over soiled modules and other distance learning woes in the aftermath of the onslaught of super typhoon “Rolly” recently.
The uproar stemmed from Briones’ suggestion for schools to initiate their own means of solutions in facing the challenges brought by the tropical cyclone to distance learning.
The public official, in a virtual press briefing, said the Education department is leaving it up to its local offices and divisions to work around the issues in their areas brought by the natural disaster, such as soiled modules.
“Halimbawa, nabasa ang module, siguro hindi naman susulat ang superintendent na ‘Basa ang module namin.’ Maghanap sila ng paraan. Ibilad nila, ‘yung iba pina-plantsa (For example, if modules get wet, I don’t expect them to complain that to us. They should find a way. Let it dry under the sun or iron them until dry),” Briones was quoted as saying.
She also told them not to expect a circular anymore from the central office to tell them what to do.
Briones’ remarks were met with criticisms from netizens outraged by her audacity to tell them that.
“How can you be so detached (from) the reality of our teachers and students? How insensitive,” a Twitter user said in response to Briones’ comments on the modules with a woozy face emoji.
Telling us to find a way, another irate Twitter user said, is tantamount to saying “bahala na kayo, as if we have not shouldered enough burden.”
“I think she used a wrong example as to how teachers can cope with the current situation. BUT, given the situation, the higher-ups should help their subordinates in coping with the challenges.
Hindi ‘yung parang iniwan sila,” another pointed out.
Briones, in a press briefing, said the Education department is merely encouraging schools to develop their own initiatives instead of traditionally waiting for orders from the DepEd.
She also believed that the typhoon will not affect the module production of the agency since it has already produced the modules for the first quarter.
They are also, according to her, trying to decrease their dependency on printed modules for the second quarter due to its environmental effects.
The Education chief said that an alternative being eyed for Metro Manila schools, for example, is to download the lessons so that an Internet connection may no longer be required upon studying.
None of what Briones was pointing out made any sense to her critics who even urged her to resign in the face of the DepEd’s lingering woes from its blended learning program before and during the start of classes.
We believe she used a wrong example as to how teachers can cope with the current situation. Given such a situation, the Education hierarchy should have instead helped schools cope with the challenges, not as if they were left to fend for themselves.
Looking back, this is not the first time that Briones’ comments have earned the ire of the public.
Last month, she declared “victory over COVID-19,” despite reports of students who are unable to enrol this school year due to financial constraints and those who continue to face challenges amid the lack of resources, such as proper Internet connection.
No offense to the 80-year-old Briones, but many netizens appear to have had enough of one considered as the Grand Dame of Philippine education. The clamor for her retirement is reaching a crescendo.
Perhaps, it’s about time that she takes a well-deserved rest.