Teachers urge DEPED to impose work-from-home scheme, disputes victory remark on school opening
Last Monday’s school opening was marred with problems from lack of modules to internet connectivity issues, unfortunately, these are the main- if not the only modes of teaching and learning under distance learning modality, the DepEd’s way to address the educational needs of the children amidst the pandemic. Despite this, however, DepEd Chief Leonor Magtolis-Briones declares Monday opening as “Victory against COVID-19” which she describes as ‘destroyer.’
But the Teachers’ Dignity Coalition (TDC), refuses to agree with Briones and said that the opening was neither a victory against pandemic nor a victory of education.
“A mere imposition of the beginning of another school year amidst the pandemic is not a victory against pandemic, in fact it could worsen the situation because of the requirement for public interaction. In terms of education, we could actually foresee that there’s a lot of Filipino children that will be left behind and it is evident by Monday’s unfortunate events,” said Benjo Basas the group’s national chairperson.
Basas furthered that teachers were being sacrificed just to beat the self-imposed October 5 deadline of the DepEd, “Out of their own pockets, they are forced to buy laptops, phones, printers, ink, bond papers, and internet data or subscribe for a better internet connection. The modules or at least the fund for production and reproduction was delayed that many schools and teachers were forced to raise money to be able to meet the requirements of DepEd. Some of them resorted to online solicitations- even barter. Still, many are forced to personally finance these modules. The DepEd also disregarded the welfare provision of the Magna Carat for teachers particularly those that aimed to protect our teachers’ health and safety.”
The TDC also hit the DepEd for failure to impose its own rules that set the work-from-home scheme as the default work arrangement for the employees especially teachers whose task is teaching. The group said that many teachers were required to report physically to their schools in varied schemes, some are once a week while others on an everyday basis. TDC added that these arrangements are highly discouraged, if not prohibited by the DepEd rules on alternative work arrangement (AWA) under DepEd Order No. 11 s. 2020 that made even in clear in the subsequent memorandum issued by Undersecretaries Revsee A. Escobedo and Jesus L.R. Mateo on June 22, 2020, and the specific replies of Hon. Escobedo addressed to TDC Secretary-General Emmalyn Policarpio dated July 9, 2020, and August 9, 2020.
Last October 2, the TDC thru Ms. Policarpio again brought the matter to the attention of Sec. Briones and formally seek for clarification on the physical reporting beginning October 5. In a letter addressed to the Secretary and furnished the respective offices of Mateo and Escobedo, Policarpio said, “While we recognize that there are circumstances that would necessitate physical reporting, the same shall not be done on a daily basis and shall not involve all the teachers, especially in a manner contrary to the existing rules. It is somewhat illogical to require the physical presence of classroom teachers when we are implementing distance learning modalities- modular or online. The tasks of a classroom teacher are identified in her weekly home learning plan (WHLP) and most of those tasks, if not all can be done remotely. Thus, we earnestly request the DepEd Central Office to take a look at this practice in the field and remind the officials to abide by the policies of the agency.”
Meanwhile, according to the TDC, many of the reported cases of violations to DepEd’s AWA are coming from CALABARZON region.
Richie Salubre, president of TDC CALABARZON Teachers’ Union said that they have received several complaints from the teachers specifically from the provinces of Cavite and Quezon that they are required to physically report every day.
“These schools are violating the letters and intent of the DepEd Order and even the Civil Service Commission (CSC) and IATF rules. The scheme they use defeats the purpose of the national government to limit the physical movement of the people and puts the national effort on COVID response in a mockery,” Salubre, a teacher in Dasmarinas City said.
Salubre explained that the Order was issued following the declaration of a state of national emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which was recently extended by the President for another year. “Some parts of the country are still under different quarantine categories that limit the access to public transportation and physical movement of the people, measures adopted by the national government in its effort to prevent the further transmission of COVID-19,” Salubre added.
Salubre said that they have recently resolved a similar issue thru local coordination and will be willing to do so to avoid further conflict between the teachers and the school administrators, but when things get worse, they will be forced to file formal complaint at the Central Office.
“These cases are not unique in CALABARZON, it also happens in other regions, even in Metro Manila. We have compiled all of those reported cases as early as June and they continue until today. Once and for all, the DepEd must prove that they can make policies and able to implement the same,” Salubre ended.
The TDC concluded that while teachers face severe adversities, DepEd conveniently declared victory in another display of insensitivity and disregard for the welfare of its front-liners- the teachers.
Emmalyn Policarpio, 0923-0819751
Richie Salubre, 0921-3880309
Benjo Basas, 0927-3356375
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