Covid-19 pandemic had strikingly bared the bankruptcy of the present educational system

Amidst the Covid 19 pandemic, school year 2020-2021 finally opened this October 5 after several months’ postponement. In compliance with the prescribed health protocol, sans the traditional face to face learning method, the DepEd adopted its socalled blended learning scheme. Despite the department’s declaration of successful opening of classes, swarm of complaints from parents, students and teachers all over the country continue to flood DepEd regarding the blended learning.

At early as its first week of implementation, many communities across the Cordillera have already expressed various criticisms regarding this program. First of these is the inaccessibility of internet signal and the high cost of gadgets needed for the online mode of blended learning. Very few families have computer sets, tablets and other gadgets for their children’s use. Under these circumstances, parents are forced beyond their means to seek out loans or find sources of cash in order to purchase the required gadgets. Otherwise, the option is not to enroll their children this school year. Internet is utterly inaccessible especially in many far flung villages. In communities where there is access to internet, students are compelled to stay awake even at unholy hours due to erratic signal. In many other communities, teachers and students are obliged to take long hikes climbing mountains and cross perilous rivers to reach signal sites, even braving monsoon rains and floods.

Second, modular learning is outrageous and problematic. Since face-to-face learning is indiscriminately prohibited even in interior communities where there have been no recorded cases of Covid-19 infection, parents are tasked to teach their children at home using the module according to their grade level. Since most of them are elementary undergraduates where a large percentage did not even reach Grade 4, their capacity to assist their children is much limited. Furthermore, this additional burden of helping educate their children will take away much of their precious time allotted to farm work and other economic activities required to be able to provide their family’s basic needs. According to some parents’ experiences, they can only allot an approximate 2-4 hours in teaching their children, and a week is not enough for their children to answer the whole set of modules for that period.

Third, many of the contents of the modular lessons are inconceivable by countryside setting. Except for the effort to translate some of the subjects to local tongue, the values that they inculcate to young minds reflect the commercialized, colonial, undemocratic and neoliberal policy reforms in education of the fascist US-Duterte regime – a glaring proof that this kind of education is not mass-oriented. Topics like Jollibee, ice cream, filling of bank deposit slips and cartoon shows are alien to most parents and children in many areas of the countryside and smacks of consumerism.

Fourth, teachers are compelled to follow DepEd circulars disregarding the concrete conditions of the communities they teach. Teachers cannot make changes to the modules due to fear of reprisals from higher offices of DepEd. They have been saddled with more work such as downloading, printing and transporting modules from the towncenter to their school in the barrio on a weekly basis, distribution to students, making rounds checking on their student in their homes, and spending several days away from the community in webinar sites. These additional work are doubled for teachers who are handling two or more grade levels. More work, less time to teach children but no additional pay. In many areas of the Cordillera, teachers have not received their benefits and allowances such as chalk allowance, clothing and hazard pay since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. Funds for cellphone loads and purchase of materials such as bond paper and ink come from the teachers’ salaries.

Along the national democratic program of the People’s Democratic Revolution, the Cordillera People’s Democratic Front, together with allied revolutionary mass organizations, relentlessly pursue the Filipino people’s right to education. We steadfastly fight for a mass oriented, patriotic, scientific and democratic education for our children and youth to replace the present commercialized, colonial, undemocratic and fascist system of education. We shall endeavor to set up adult literacy and numeracy classes whenever possible to eradicate illiteracy among parents and guardians and capacitate them in assisting their childrens’ education. Planning and launching of education mass campaigns to demand for the implementation of face-to-face learning in Covid-free communities while strictly observing health protocols, appropriate quality of modules, adequate reference and instruction materials among others should be undertaken. We also call on the communities to strengthen their traditional systems of cooperation and take their united stand in line with these calls.

Above all, we should continue to denounce the impractical and militarist solutions of the Duterte regime in dealing with this pandemic which exacerbates the sufferings of the people, and call for its ouster. Only by overthrowing the rotten system through the national-democratic revolution can the people achieve the system that prioritizes social services and the interest of the majority of the oppressed and exploited.

Oust the US-Duterte regime!
Fight for adequate social services!
Advance the national-democratic revolution until total victory!

Covid-19 pandemic had strikingly bared the bankruptcy of the present educational system