Are PH schools ready for virtual learning? Duterte has doubts

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 5) — President Rodrigo Duterte has cast doubts on the country’s readiness to adopt distance learning a few months before the next school year is expected to begin.

Duterte said in a taped public address aired Friday, “The technology is good, but I don’t know if we’re ready for that. Meaning to say, do we have enough of those na gagamitin (devices) for the whole of the Philippines?”

However, Duterte said if the government can afford to provide the tools, then the Department of Education could proceed with its plan.

DepEd earlier released the calendar for the next school year, with classes slated to begin this August 24, and expected to end in April 2021.

Education Secretary Leonor Briones previously said the school opening does not necessarily mean traditional classroom education, stressing that online and blended learning are still viable options.

The delivery of lessons could be done through the use of the Learning Resources portal and DepEd Commons, TV, radio and learning modules and packets both in print and digital format, Briones said.

Critics argue that online-based education poses a problem to students who do not have internet access.

For the President, school buildings must remain shut.

“We have to wait for the vaccine. Sabi ko sa inyo walang vaccine, walang eskwela (I am telling you: No vaccine, no school).”

The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases previously recommended moving the opening of classes to September to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

But the education secretary has said this is not allowed according to the law, which states that school opening must start on the first Monday of June, but no later than the last day of August.

This may not be a problem soon, as the bill seeking to give the President the power to move the school year opening beyond August during a state of emergency is now up for Duterte's signature after it hurdled Congress this week.