Press Release
May 26, 2020

Transcript of Senator Win Gatchalian's The Chiefs interview with Ed Lingao, Roby Alampay, Amy Pamintuan and Luchi Cruz-Valdes on the postponement of the opening of schools

Q: Magandang gabi po Senator Gatchalian.

SEN WIN: Good evening everyone.

Q: Nag-announce po kagabi si President Duterte na no vaccine, no classes. Medyo mahirap yan dahil we were told na 48% lang ng public school system has access to internet. Papaano ang gagawin natin diyan?

SEN WIN: Ang ating Pangulo ay maraming advisers to public health, governance to public safety so yung kanyang intelligence information is far more superior than ours dahil maraming nagbibigay sa kanya ng information. His information is really for the benefit and safety of our students, parents and teachers. Kaya nung nagbigay siya ng comment na ganito is because ang gusto natin ay masigurado na ang ating mga estudyante, guro at parents ay ligtas. Having said that, this afternoon we sponsored a bill. This is a bill authored by Senator Villanueva, Senator Tolentino at Senate President Sotto to give powers to our President to delay or to prescribe another date for school opening in an event of a calamity or an emergency. Ngayon kasi under RA No. 7977, ang last day ng opening ng klase ay last day of August. Paano kung tumagal pa ito at magkaroon ng second wave? We need to give the President ample powers to open schools in a phase manner or in geographic manner. Kailangan natin ng flexibility na ganyan dahil itong virus na ito ay unpredictable at hindi pa napag aaralan ng marami.

Kapag sinabi nating school opening, it doesn't mean face-to-face, pwede siyang hybrid learning or ibang modality. Nasabi nga kanina na hindi lahat ng lugar ay may internet at imposible for a public school system na gamitin ang online para magturo. Pero meron tayong telebisyon at radio. Sa ibang bansa, especially sa developing nations. Marami ang gumagamit ng radyo at telebisyon. In other words, we need to innovate and use all resources to teach. Kung talagang hindi kakayanin na magbukas ng physical classes on August 24, hindi natin pwedeng pilitin yan dahil delikado pero hindi rin ibig sabihin na hindi tayo magtuturo dahil available ang tv at radio at pwede nang mag-umpisang magturo as we speak right now. In fact, in some private schools nagtuturo na sila. Maraming private schools ngayon ang nag-umpisa na, ang gamit nila ay online learning. Nagzu-zoom sila, may klase sila at lesson. Gumamit sila ng available na technology. Dito naman sa atin for a public school, pwede na tayong gumamit ng tv at radio para makapagturo na tayo. Q: You've been quoted as saying it could be anti-poor because the mass majority of students do not have access to online and even if you say that you are going to make radio at tv as a tool, even that is also not available to everyone. So how do you cross the gap now between the rich kids and the poor who will certainly be left behind?

SEN WIN: These are facts. Inequality in education is very high in our country. In fact, our students are performing poorly in terms of education. A case in point is the PISA results last year. We were second to the last in Math, Science and Reading so we cannot let this inequality grow bigger and bigger because of COVID. We need to innovate and do something. This is why I implored on DepEd to use all available technologies. Talagang ang tv and radio will not be perfect. It cannot substitute face-to-face learning or it cannot completely substitute day to day physical learning pero hind pwedeng wala eh. Right now, the situation is very volatile and things are changing rapidly but who knows, by August maybe the situation will be much better. The point here is we have to innovate. DepEd needs to use all available technologies to teach and I know that DepEd is already coordinating with PTV4 and some government channels to come up with radio-based curriculum. Like I said, yung mga bata nasa bahay lang ngayon so pwede nang gamitin ang teknolohiya. I looked at the statistics, tv almost 90%, ang radio almost 40 or 50%. This is enough already to reach our kids and come up with a tv-based, radio-based curriculum.

Q: I fully understand what you are saying and frankly I think nobody here knows the solution is going to be but gusto ko lang sundan yung thinking, nandiyan naman yung tv, nandiyan naman ang radyo, even with the internet and I talked to a lot of private sector teachers, umaalma yung mga private school teachers saying that we're not there, we don't have a curriculum, we're not trained to create a syllabus and teach online. These are for rich kids or at least children who already have access to the internet, who already have access to gadgets and they're saying the software of teaching is not built for this now we're talking about delivering this over radio?

SEN WIN: Roby you are absolutely right. There is a survey conducted by Asia Foundation that less that 20% of our teachers have any experience in alternative modes of delivery. This is tv, radio or online because in the past we've never seen a necessity to do alternative modes of delivery, it's all face-to-face, physical teaching but we have to adjust and we have to come up with innovative solutions for our children to learn because I don't believe our children should stop learning. in fact they should learn in their homes and there is such a thing called learning from home in which government will use all available resources to reach to every single child in our country. I'm very worried that if we don't do anything, the other alternative here is to do nothing and the inequality between the rich and the poor will greatly increase over the next few months and we cannot afford that. Like I said our performance in Math, Science and Reading in the PISA results are second to the last and this will worsen if we don't do anything. While we're waiting for the vaccine to come out, while we're waiting for the medicine to come out, dapat muna tayong gumamit kung anong available. It will not be perfect definitely because of course even radio has its limitations but something has to be done for them to learn.

Q: I think Senator everyone agrees with you that something is certainly better than nothing and I think the concern that everyone has right now is that tv and radio are not really built for interactive learning. they've been there for quite some time but for supplemental learning. Also the problem with online learning as well is it may be very good for grad students, those who have instilled discipline but we might have a problem with the basic school students or elementary students who does not have the same kind of discipline and focus while they are online?

SEN WIN: I totally agree, in fact you pointed out a very good information there that our teachers are not even ready yet. That's why depEd is given three months to prepare for alternative mode of delivery. This is a tall order considering we also need to prepare teachers, we have develop a curriculum but they are getting ready to deliver education somehow in this pandemic. It's no easy task but nevertheless we have to innovate because most developing nations are doing this.

Q: Senator, to your point that it's not an easy task by trying, let me just prompt you by figuring out how difficult this is going to be. What are the moving parts here that in all honesty we're all concerned about. We're talking about innovation for example but the delivery of tv and radio will have very limited frequencies, in fact we're talking about a few, the one, the two, the three owned by government and so on. So you have basic questions like who's going to develop that one curriculum that will be blasted out to everyone? All the moving parts that sa totoo lang is very, very difficult?

Q: Let's look at the worst case scenario, the worst case scenario we will have another surge. Surge will go on in the next few weeks and the surge will go beyond August, meaning the first thing we have to do is protect our children, our families and also our teachers. We cannot have face-to-face interactions but tv and radio, these types of modalities will still function. This is the best alternatives we have right now because children can use their spare time at home, usually they have a lot of time. So government can reach out to them and at least give them the basic knowledge that they need. We have to retool definitely, retool our curriculum in order to adjust to this type of modality. Teachers also need to retool because somehow we need to interact on the ground. I don't know yet how interaction will be whether it's going to be house-to-house. It's something that we need to study carefully but in the worst case scenario, I think, children can still learn. Tv and radio are still functioning and we can still reach out to them.

Q: Senator what about tapping parents themselves even before the covid, homeschooling is becoming more and more popular amongst stay-at-home moms. The work from home scenario will have more Mothers who will be home. Have you considered how to tap this great resource of learning?

SEN WIN: Definitely, the parents will play a very big role, the guardians, the parents malaki ang papel na gagampanan nila because in the learning from home set-up the parents are with their children 24/7. But we need to make sure that the parents are also capable and also knowledgeable in delivering education. I think from grades three and below to kinder it will be an easier task for the parents but for higher grades and especially for junior and senior high school will be more complex. Again, this is something that the committee and depEd has been talking about and working on. The scenario is very fluid, things are changing on the ground but we need to prepare for any eventuality. My view here is, even in the worst case scenario we need to deliver education to the homes of our families because children need to learn and we cannot afford to increase inequality between the rich children and the poor children.

Q: Senator every question I preface with you hindi ko rin alam kung ano ang sagot so just to be fair to you and to everyone, trying to figure this out just trying to still be very critical and cynical about this, I admit. We presume that at the very least let's not do harm and at the very least anything is better than zero but is there is a possibility here that we can do harm by convincing ourselves that playing a curriculum over radio or tv is actually going teach them? Even if when it comes to home schooling a lot of parents, especially in our poorer sectors were themselves left high school even grade school? So it's not even true that as long as may parents at nakikinig ng radyo, would this actually have the potential to harm by creating a false sense of value?

SEN WIN: I don't see any downside here. In fact this type of methodology is being implemented in a lot of nations. In most Latin American nations they're doing this, in a lot of developing nations in the Middle East, they're doing this because they need to innovate. We all know that children need to learn and should not stop learning even in this type of pandemic. I don't see any harm or any downside, it's important for depEd to learn and depEd has the resources, the brain power, the manpower to develop this curriculum that is why they're giving themselves ample time to develop it. Hopefully we don't reach that point and the situation changes for the better but if it does, we cannot afford to just sit down and antayin na lang natin yung gamot at papasukin yung bata. Paano if hindi dumating yung gamot in two years? So our children will stop learning in two years? I don't think that's possible for our situation.

Q: Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, Chairman of the Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture. Marami pong salamat.

SEN WIN: Thank you.

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