Training of public school teachers for distance learning to be completed by July—DepEd

Aileen Cerrudo   •   June 25, 2020   •   451

The training of public school teachers for distance learning is set to be completed by July, according to the Department of Education (DepEd).

During the Senate Committee hearing on Thursday (June 25), DepEd reported that only 40 percent of the 800,000 public school teachers have completed their training.

Deped Undersecretary Tony Umali said there will be a massive training to be led by the National Educators Academy of the Philippines.

Senator Nancy Binay, meanwhile, questioned DepEd for the lack of “mapping” to determine the best learning modality in various areas in the country.

“Iyong training na gagawin sa teachers dapat angkop sa kakayahan ng lugar. For example, let’s say Bukidnon or Cordillera na alam naman natin mahirap ang signal. So why would we train our teachers for an online way of teaching our kids when alam naman natin na mukhang mahirap iyong ganung klase ng pagtuturo? (The training for teachers should be appropriate for the area. For example, let’s say in Bukidnon or Cordillera which we know have difficulty in signal. Why would we train our teachers for an online way of teaching kids when we know that mode of teaching would be difficult),” she said.

DepEd said they are conducting surveys to determine the capacity of students and teachers for alternative learning modality under distance learning.

“Kasi po kasabay nga po ng aming registration form ay may survey, dapat malaman namin kung ano ba ang pinakamabisang modality, pamamaraan ng pagtuturo at pag-aaral ng mga bata, (With our registration form, we also have a survey. It should help us determine what is the best modality, mode of learning for the students’ education),” Umali said.

The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) has already prepared the educational radio programs and scripts for the digital programs for Grade 9 and 10 Math and Science lessons.

Meanwhile, DepEd calls on private schools to suspend tuition fee hike and other fees.

“The Department of Education appeals to private educational institutions in basic education to defer increases in tuition and other miscellaneous fees or charges for School Year 2020-2021. In view of the financial constraints that parents and learners are expected to face due to the COVID-19 pandemic situation,” DepEd said. AAC (with reports from Harlene Delgado)

Class suspension still falls under LGUs discretion—DepEd

Aileen Cerrudo   •   October 26, 2020

The local government units (LGU) remain as the authority for announcing suspension of classes during calamities, according to the Department of Education (DepEd).

DepEd Undersecretary Jess Mateo said the department did not release any guidelines in class suspension amid the distance learning under the new normal setting.

“Ang magdedeklara ng walang pasok ay ang mga local government units, (The local government units will declare class suspension),” he said.

DepEd also said classes will not be heavily affected since most classes are using modules and not online. Teachers can also extend deadlines for assignments and other school projects.

“Ang mga guro natin nagbibigay naman ng konsiderasyon kasi alam nila ang estado ng kanilang mga mag-aaral, (Teachers will provide consideration because they know they situation of the students),” Mateo said. AAC (with reports from Dante Amento)

PRA urged to review policy allowing 35-year old foreign retirees in PHL

Robie de Guzman   •   October 22, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Nancy Binay has called on the Philippine Retirement Authority (PRA) to review its existing policies which allow retirees as young as 35 years old to stay in the country.

In a statement, Binay said the PRA should revisit its policies, do a background check and implement a stricter vetting process “to lessen the probability of foreign nationals exploiting the special resident retiree visas (SRRV).”

“It’s high time to review the policy na 35 years old ka lang ay pwede ka na mag-retire dito sa Pilipinas kasi ang kailangan lang po ng magre-retire ay either mag-deposit siya ng US$50,000 sa bangko, or bumili ng condo unit worth P2.5 million at pwede nang mag-retire dito,” she said.

Binay issued the call after some senators expressed alarm upon learning in a Senate hearing that foreigners aged 35 years old and above are eligible for the SRRV.

It was also revealed during the hearing that Chinese nationals are among the top foreign retirees in the country.

Binay also hit the “seemingly relaxed national security policy” on allowing Chinese nationals who are 35 years old, which she says falls in the bracket of the so-called “soldier’s age.”

“Siguro dapat dagdagan din ang security measure at baka dapat higpitan ang vetting process ng mga tatanggapin natin regardless of nationality,” she said.

She also said that she finds the PRA’s age limit concerning and noted how foreigners can exploit this to work in the country without going through the proper channels.

“Alam naman natin at 35 years old malakas pa po ang katawan niyan. Lalong-lalo po mayroon tayong problema ngayon na kung saan may issue tayo na apparently ang mga kababayan natin ay nagkakaroon ng job displacement pagdating dito sa pagpasok ng mga Chinese nationals sa ating bansa,” she said.

“Pwede (ang mga yan ay) nagtatrabaho sa POGO, or pwede rin po baka nandiyan sila sa Divisoria. Kaya nga po magandang tingnan at pag-aralan kasi baka kumbaga ginagamit nila itong paraan to circumvent the law na hindi sila puwedeng mag-trabaho dito,” she added

Data from the PRA showed there are a total of 70,520 foreign retirees in the Philippines. Of this number, Chinese nationals comprise the highest number of foreign retirees or about 40%.

This is followed by Korean retirees at around 14,000, and Indian nationals at about 6,000.

Schools urged to strictly enforce health protocols, alternative work set up for teachers

Robie de Guzman   •   October 15, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Thursday called on public school officials to strictly enforce health protocols and alternative work arrangements laid out by the Department of Education (DepEd) to protect teachers and non-teaching staff from possible coronavirus disease infection.

In a statement, Gatchalian said this is to prevent the uptick of COVID-19 cases now that teachers and other school personnel are expected to be out in the field to carry out their tasks and distribute modules to students.

The senator made the call after 10 high school teachers in Ilagan City, Isabela reportedly tested positive for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) after attending a meeting.

Two students were also reported to have contracted the virus.

Ilagan City is under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) until Oct. 16.

Gatchalian, chairman of the Senate committee on basic education said the incident in Ilagan City should remind public school authorities to ensure the safety of their personnel.

They should equip their personnel with back-to-school essentials such as masks, face shields, and personal protective equipment (PPE). The health care needs of teachers and staff infected with COVID-19 should also be given immediate attention.

“Ngayong nagsimula na ang klase, lalo nating dapat tutukan ang kalusugan ng bawat guro at non-teaching staff lalo na’t sila ang nagsisilbing mga frontliners sa pagpapatupad ng distance learning sa gitna ng pandemya,” Gatchalian said.

He also said that since classes are in full swing, an arrangement between DepEd and PhilHealth should already be operational to inspire and sustain the confidence in the roll-out of distance learning program.

“Kailangang siguruhin natin ang kanilang kaligtasan sa kanilang pagtatrabaho at kung sakali namang tamaan sila ng sakit, dapat matiyak natin na makatatanggap sila ng agarang tulong medikal,” he said.

DepEd Order No. 011 s. 2020 identifies alternative work arrangements such as work-from-home, skeleton workforce, four-day workweek, and staggered working hours.

In areas under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ), schools and DepEd offices may operate at full operational capacity as may be allowed by required health standards, including physical distancing protocols.

In areas under General Community Quarantine (GCQ) like Metro Manila, however, personnel reporting physically for work should not exceed 50 percent.

To help with early detection of possible COVID-19 cases, DepEd’s required health standards, which are outlined in DepEd Order No. 014 s. 2020, mandate schools and offices to have a provision of referral services that will link learners, teachers, and personnel to the appropriate health facilities.

Under its required health standards, DepEd is also tasked to coordinate with the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) and work out a possible institutional arrangement.

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