Manila, Philippines – The National Federation of Peasant Women or Amihan joined Rep. France Castro of ACT Teachers Party-list in challenging Department of Education secretary Leonor Briones to hold demonstrations of their distance learning proposal in the far-flung communities across the country.
“Ang alternative modes of learning ng DepEd ngayong pasukan na blended, online, modular, TV/Radio based learning ay discriminatory, di akma at kinokompromisa ang aksesibilidad at kalidad ng edukasyon ng mga kabataan. Sinususugan namin ang panawagan ni Rep. France Castro ng ACT Teachers na i-demonstrate ni Briones ang kanilang proposal laluna sa mahihirap na pamilya sa kanayunan,” Zenaida Soriano, Tagapangulo ng Amihan.
Soriano added that Briones and her executives should integrate with peasant families to see first-hand the infeasibility of their proposal, and belied her agency’s claims that it is not blind of reality and learned of the uneven situation of students and communities.
“Paanong hindi sila bulag, eh mismong taga-Caloocan City na nga, ang seventh grader nag-enrol sa pisonet, ang mga magulang walang trabaho dahil sa lockdown, walang budget para sa internet at walang gadget. Sa mismong pag-enrol nahirapan kaya tinulungan na lang ng nakapansin sa kanya, dahil baka abutan ng curfew. Kung siya na taga-Metro Manila na, nahirapan pa, eh di lalo na yung mga taga-probinsya,” she slammed.
The group said that the alternative modes of learning compromises the accessibility and quality of education to the students, aside from the economic impact to the poor peasant families. They involved buying gadgets or appliances, and the costs for internet connection, electricity and transportation. Soriano also stressed amid DepEd officials’ claim that it may be unnecessary, these modes would press poor families into buying the required peripherals if they want their children to cope up with the learning.
“Kahit sa modular learning, kung mayroong hindi maintindihan ang mag-aaral, mapipilitan ang pamilya na gumastos sa load para kontakin ang guro, o kaya nama’y mag-internet at doon mag-research. Ang walang budget para rito ay tuluyang maiiwanan sa mga lesson. Sa pangkalahatan, ito ay pinagsamang pagbaba ng aksesibilidad at kalidad ng edukasyon,” she warned.
She stressed these modes spell misery and hardship to peasant women who are already preoccupied with farm work and securing food for their next meal.
“Ang pagiging problematiko ng modang ito ang magtutulak sa maraming kabataan na tumigil sa pag-aaral, laluna sa kanayunan,” she cautioned.
Lastly, as Amihan recognized the great importance of public education to the youth, the DepEd should craft its plan on the realistic condition of society, and avoid discriminatory measures against poor families. Instead, the group pressed the agency to carry out free mass testing to students, teachers and workers in the education sector as a crucial step towards normalcy and safe schooling. ###