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Gov supports limited face-to-face classes
By: Eleanor Valeros, Mylen Manto | Published Tuesday, November 17, 2020
In a press conference, Gov. Gwen Garcia expressed support to the limited face-to-face classes in public schools in the Province and committed support for textbooks and school supplies. (Lito Tecson)

Governor Gwendolyn Garcia expressed support to the return of face-to-face classes and assured that the Cebu Provincial Government is willing to spend on textbooks and school supplies for the estimated 600,000 students in the Province.

Vitamins will be given to boost the students’ health, as well as ultraviolet lamps for schools’ sterilization purposes, she said in a press conference Tuesday, November 17.

She backs the position of the League of Municipalities in the Philippines (LMP) Cebu Chapter on the resumption of face-to-face classes. 

In a resolution, LMP Cebu Chapter supported the proposal of Department of Education (DepEd) Cebu Province on limited face-to-face learning.

“I think it’s about time because we are seeing that these modules are not working, more so kaning online because the Province is not Internet-ready. We conducted a survey sa tibuok Province, town by town, the best figure is only at 20 percent nga Internet ready,” Garcia stated.

“So of course, nag-module ta, mahal kaayo sa nga tanan. DepEd is estimating P280 per module, upat ka modules in one month. We have over 600,000 students. Kamo you are aware of that, daghan kaayong sayop diha sa module, ang owl nahimong ostrich,” she pointed out.

The governor reiterated that she has not spent for modules as the P1.2-billion budget proposed by DepEd for distance learning modality in a ten-month school calendar are “pricey and may not successfully develop the expected competencies among learners.”

She also emphasized the importance of peer interaction for the development of the child. 

“It is important that there is some form of interaction with their peers. Maybe, we do not need to do it in an immediate, expanded manner, but little by little, slowly. Definitely that should be the goal. We have to go back to face-to-face,” she elucidated.

Garcia also committed to fund the purchase of textbooks as the standards of education cannot be assured in the modules currently being used.

“Ang standard of education has grossly been lowered with this module-module thing. There is also the hovering question kinsa’y ga-answer ana, ang estudyante ba o ang inahan? Or ang iyaan or kinsa’y paryente ana? Basin ang inahan o ang iyaan maoy mopaso as valedictorian,” she added.

She also seeks to put up a panel of editors for the textbooks that the Provincial Government will spend on so the content would be scrutinized. 

“Kay basin unya og mao lang gihapon, tingali unya og ang ibutang ‘this is an ostrich, unya owl ang picture.’ Definitely English na ta, ang medium of instruction, para dili maglibog ang bata,” she further stated.

Garcia wished that in the next Provincial School Board meeting, as soon as it is feasible, there would be a more definite policy from the DepEd as regards face-to-face classes.

“Before we meet duna na unta’y more definite policy from DepEd as regards the face-to-face classes kay og mag-meet mi unya existing ni, mangayo na pud unya na’g budget, unya dili man ko mohatag. Usik-usik lang ta. Laliman ka’g ilang gipangayo kay P1.2 billion for the modules. I rather not waste money that way. Now we’re seeing it, the students are not actually learning,” Garcia stressed.

“I would rather spend on interventions that would, first of all, ensure better education for our children. Second, improving their environment, sa mga eskuylahan. Third, improving the teaching materials that we can be assured of, sigurado ta. Mao na kining mga libro unya puhon,” she said.

The governor also shared that the free notebooks and other school supplies for Kindergarten to Grade 12 levels will soon be provided by the Capitol.

“I would like to announce nga nag-bidding na man, we will be providing again ang mga libre nga notebooks, ang school supplies from K to 12. Gi-bid na, mipirma na ko sa PR (purchase request),” she disclosed.

Limited face-to-face classes

On November 9, DepEd 7 Director Dr. Salustiano Jimenez stated in a regular session of the Cebu Provincial Board that face-to-face classes are limited to schools in the hinterlands and islands.

“It will be a gradual implementation. So, we’ll start from the hinterlands and island schools because ang hinterlands limited man gud ang number sa population, gamay ra ba og mga bata. Very easy to control unya ma-implement gyud og klaro ang social distancing and health and safety protocols,” he said.

“Two days maximum face-to-face per week with 50 percent capacity. So, if let us say there are 20 learners in the class, 10 will be on the first two days, the other two days for another 50 percent and Friday will be the teachers’ preparation,” Jimenez explained.

Two days of the week will be intended for the face-to-face classes while the remaining three days will be for blended learning which employs modules, books, and radio-based instruction.

Jimenez, a member of the Regional Inter-Agency Task Force (RIATF), disclosed that their office submitted to RIATF last month a proposal for limited face-to-face classes which was then endorsed to the National Inter-Agency Task Force (NIATF).

DepEd 7 received around 160 resolutions from different parent-teacher associations (PTAs) and local government units (LGUs) in Central Visayas requesting for the resumption of physical classes.

Budget for modules

Last June 9, Governor Garcia expressed apprehension on the alternative modes of learning for students in the Province. She was in a meeting with the different DepEd schools division representatives.

“This might be ridiculously expensive but the learning is not proportionate to the expense,” Garcia pointed out.

DepEd developed specific learning modalities such as distance learning through modules, educational television, radio, and online broadcast programs; as well as homeschooling, in order to conduct off-campus classes.

Rosalie Pasaol, City of Naga schools division superintendent, said that for the 29,000 enrolled learners in her division, they need P40 million to reproduce weekly modules and worksheets in the first three months of the school year.

However, Garcia expressed concerns on the learning mastery of students on a remote learning-at-home setting, most especially those in pre-school and first grade.

“Wala pa man ni sila’y concept of letters, numbers, colors, shapes. Kanang higher grades atong i-presume nga kamao na na sila mobasa so makasabot na na sila sa instructions. But how about the beginners?” she asked.

Garcia also questioned the assurance of honesty among learners to accomplish their assignments and not let the parents or guardians answer the worksheets for them. 

On top of these concerns, the governor underscored that most students in the Province do not have Internet connectivity.

Out of the 537,487 kindergarten up to Grade 12 students in Cebu Province surveyed by DepEd, only 92,920 or 17.29 percent have Internet connections for the supposed online learning. About 82.71 percent, or 444,567 learners, don’t have access to the internet. 

This was disclosed in the said meeting by Dr. Leah B. Apao, assistant schools division superintendent of the Province of Cebu. (Eleanor Valeros with reports from Mylen Manto)