Press Release
June 26, 2020

Bong Go urges DepEd to present action plan for 'Blended Learning' that can ensure education access for all amid COVID-19 crisis; reiterates stand: 'no vaccine, no face-to-face classes'

As the education system adopts blended learning methods to protect students from COVID-19, Senator Christopher Lawrence "Bong" Go urged the Department of Education to lay down an action plan to address concerns of Filipinos in preparation for the upcoming school year.

The Senator also reminded concerned agencies to work together to provide for alternative, remote learning methods that can ensure education access even for students who have no internet connection.

"Meron pa rin sa ating mga estudyante ang walang access sa internet. Dapat siguraduhin na mabigyan pa rin sila ng oportunidad para maituloy ang kanilang pag-aaral," Go said.

"Kaya naman po hinihikayat ko ang DepEd na gawing mas accessible at inclusive ang kanilang mga programa para sa mga kabataan kahit saan mang parte ng bansa sa pamamagitan ng online at offline methods of teaching," he added.

A global framework formulated by the United Nations Children's Fund; United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization; and the World Bank recommends that, for the safe re-opening of classes, focus should also be on other learning modalities to reach areas without internet connection.

Go earlier recommended to the education sector to maximize the use of available media, such as television and radio, to facilitate distance learning among students.

"May available multimedia platforms na pwedeng gamitin at airtime sa radyo at telebisyon na dapat allotted for educational programs. Ayon sa batas, pwede po itong gamitin bilang alternative mode of teaching and learning," he stated.

The Senator cited Republic Act No. 8370, also known as the Children's Television Act of 1997, which requires a minimum of 15% of a network's daily total air time to programs that further children's positive development.

Meanwhile, state media company Intercontinental Broadcasting Corporation (IBC-13) has offered to use its television facilities as a remote learning platform. The proposal should enable DepEd to air curriculum-based programs when the school year reopens.

"Sa planong 'blended learning' ng DepEd, dapat masiguro na hindi lamang online learning ang focus nito kundi pati na rin ang ibang modalities na hindi nangangailangan ng internet connection," he said.

Go added that teachers must be given sufficient training in the use of various multimedia platforms for teaching. Given the ongoing health crisis, the Senator also reminded DepEd that educators should also be ready to provide psychosocial support to their students.

Go stressed that students with disabilities should be considered in the implementation of the plan. The integration of social and emotional learning should also be emphasized given the ongoing pandemic which has affected the lives of students and their families.

"Ayaw po nating maantala ang klase, ngunit prayoridad natin lagi ang kaligtasan at kalusugan ng mga Pilipino," said Go, who is also Chair of the Senate Committee on Health.

The Senator has staunchly backed President Rodrigo Duterte's call to disallow face-to-face learning until it is deemed safe or until a vaccine for COVID-19 is available. President Duterte also earlier suggested the use of radio as a mode of distance learning given that it is the most accessible form of media even in far-flung areas.

"We will take this one step at a time so that we can slowly, but surely ensure that education continues without compromising the safety of our students. Kahit ayaw nating maantala ang klase nila, importanteng safe sila," Go cautioned.

The Senator also urged the Department of Information and Communications Technology and other concerned agencies to work together to fulfill the vision of providing universal internet access that is stable and affordable for all Filipinos.

"Sa panahon ngayon, lahat nagta-transition na to online. From E-governance, E-commerce and also online learning. Importante na hindi po maiwan ang bansa pagdating sa pagkakaroon ng access to the internet. Malaki po ang maitutulong nito para mabigyan ang kabataan ng oportunidad na makapag-aral at makapag-trabaho sa 'new normal' na haharapin nating lahat," he explained.

Meanwhile, DepEd has been developing its Basic Education-Learning Continuity Plan to cope up with the pandemic. The plan directs schools to implement blended/distance learning modalities wherein lessons will be delivered to the students in their homes.

Under said plan, DepEd has developed a learning portal called "DepEd Commons" where online learning resources are published. Television- and radio-based instruction is also part of the plan.

As for students who lack access to these technologies, DepEd's plan is that they will be provided with printed or digital modules to be delivered to their homes, or picked up by their parents at designated areas, within coordinated schedules for learners. The use of printed self-learning modules is an alternative to digital learning. These printed modules will supplement the TV broadcast and radio-based instructions being strategized by DepEd.

"Siguraduhin lang po na maaksyunan ang planong ito sa paraan na walang mapapabayaang Pilipino," he urged.

Go also suggested to DepEd to work with local government units which may have the capability to provide free internet access to address concerns of students who may be financially constrained and cannot afford to pay for internet connectivity.

In line with this, Go filed Senate Bill No. 396 last year, which seeks to amend the Local Government Code of 1991 by expanding the uses for which the Special Education Fund (SEF) taken from the additional 1% on real property tax may be spent.

The bill will enable LGUs to utilize the SEF to operate Alternative Learning System programs as well as provide for the salaries, allowances and other benefits of ALS facilitators. Recently, Go reiterated his call for its passage recognizing that the measure will provide LGUs the flexibility they need to maximize available resources to help their public schools adapt to blended learning techniques.

Meanwhile, Go also commended the enactment of Republic Act 11476 which institutionalizes Good Manners and Right Conduct (GMRC) and Values Education as integral and essential parts of the K to 12 Basic Education Curriculum. The Senator acknowledged the efforts of his co-authors and the sponsors of the measure while thanking the President for signing it into law.

"This new law will help mold the youth into upright and responsible members of society, instilling in them family values and love of country. Bukod sa magandang edukasyon, importante ring maituro sa kabataan ang magandang asal, pagmamalasakit sa kapwa at pagseserbisyo sa bayan," Go said.

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