August 16, 2022
MANILA, Philippines — Around 90 percent of the over 47,000 public schools nationwide are expected to hold in-person classes on Aug. 22, the Department of Education (DepEd) said on Monday.
“For the private schools, I think the majority of them would still be doing blended learning at least until Oct. 31,” Epimaco Densing, undersecretary of the DepEd, said at a press briefing after the launching of the department’s “Oplan Balik Eskwela” initiative.
But an online survey conducted by the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) from Aug. 8 to Aug. 14 showed that some 60 to 75 percent out of 1,022 teacher respondents said they were only “slightly prepared” or “not prepared at all” for the opening of classes next week.
“Insufficiency in preparation is highest in the aspects of usable classrooms (67 percent), sufficiency of learning materials (75 percent), clarity of plans and guidelines and sufficiency of training for education recovery (69 percent) and protection of teachers’ welfare (68 percent),” ACT said.
As part of efforts to build more confidence for in-person schooling, the Department of Health said it was planning to bring vaccination closer to teachers, students, and parents through its “settings-based strategy,” or schools in particular for the education sector.
Families of unvaccinated students would undergo a counseling session while mobile vaccination drives would be set up in schools for those who agree to get jabbed.
The DepEd earlier scrapped its previous policy of requiring vaccination for teachers holding in-person classes, saying their number was low.
“Of the 37,000 unvaccinated teachers, 20,000 have registered for COVID-19 vaccination and only 17,000 are unvaccinated,” Education Undersecretary Revsee Escobedo said.
The DepEd, meanwhile, asked the Commission on Audit (COA) to conduct a “fraud audit” on the purchase of P2.4 billion worth of “pricey” and “outdated” laptops for public school teachers.
“While we are not declaring that there is a fraudulent transaction, we’re also not saying that there is none … so the directive of Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte is to probe the issue to see if there was any anomaly,” Densing told reporters.
He said they particularly wanted to know why the specification of 1.9 gigahertz (GHz) was downgraded to 1.8GHz by the Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management and why the processor chosen was Intel Celeron when “we were very specific in the laptops’ specifications.”
“These are the areas we want to look into and we do not want to give judgment because we all know that the prices of products we purchase change from time to time,” he said.