Two legislators on Wednesday criticized the Department of Education’s handling of its budget for digital infrastructure including laptops and learning modules.
In the lower chamber, Assistant Minority Leader France Castro filed a resolution seeking to inquire into the DepEd’s manner of distribution of laptops.
Senator Joel Villanueva for his part called out the DepEd to pay attention to the single, most important conditionality attached to the P15.1-billion fund to purchase learning modules: the prevention of errors.
Castro, a member of the Makabayan bloc, questioned DepEd’s memorandum which provided for the priorities for the distribution of these laptops. “Many asked, why is it that it was the teacher who worked for it but it was the boss who benefitted?”
Castro raised the question after “many public school teachers expressed dismay over the release of the DepEd Memorandum 00-0821-0062.
Castro, the nominee ACT Teachers party-list group, said the DepEd memorandum states that the priority distribution would be 25 laptops per Regional Office; 15 laptops each for small, 20 for medium, 25 for large, and 30 for very large School Division Offices; and one laptop each per Implementing Unit and District Office. The DepEd allotted only 115 laptops per Legislative District which will be given to schools or teachers.
“The teachers hoped to be given support under the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act of the gadgets for the blended distance learning because although many students are using self-learning module, the teachers still need the laptops for them to accomplish what is require(d) from them by the agency. In view of this memo, teachers will just hope to be among the awardees of the 115 per Legislative District ,” Castro added.
Villanueva described the P15.1 billion budget for learning modules as “the price we have to pay for failing to rein in the pandemic, which, in turn, has prevented the resumption of face-to-face classes.
“It is also the penalty we are paying for our poor digital infrastructure which has made remote learning an ordeal for teachers, learners, and parents,” he said.
“But all of this pales in comparison to the damage done to millions of learners in terms of knowledge forfeited, which education experts describe as the so-called ‘COVID slide,’ a national tragedy so great that it is impossible to quantify,” he said.
Under the special provisions of the DepEd budget, the agency’s “Error Watch Initiative” shall proactively review learning modules and rectify, withdraw or replace those which contain errors.
Last school year, complaints on a number of DepEd modules grabbed the headlines for several reasons, including political correctness, factual errors, and even spelling and grammatical lapses, Villanueva said.