Ahead of the August 24 opening of public schools, teachers and schools have been seeking paper supply donations online for their modular learning program.
Since July, the Department of Education has been assuring the public that they are preparing for the printing and distribution of Self-Learning Modules (SLMs) to schools. This is following the results of the Learners’ Enrollment and Survey Form (LESFs), which revealed that a majority of parents prefer modular distance learning over other modes of learning.
As of August 5, however, some teachers claimed they still don’t have copies of the learning materials, prompting them and their schools to find other means to produce the modules on their own.
This year, teachers asked their communities to donate disinfectant, face masks, and even bond paper that the schools can use in their daily operations.
Under the “Bond Paper Mo, Module Ko” online campaign on their Facebook pages, teachers and schools announced that they are accepting bond paper donations for this year's Brigada Eskwela.
Donors can give one ream (500 sheets) of preferably A4-size bond paper – the paper size officially used by the government – for the printing of SLMs. A ream of A4 paper costs around P150 to P300.
The posts said that since each SLM can use up to 30 pages, good for one week per student, sustaining this will “surely drain out” the small budget of schools and the personal funds of the teachers, who are known use their own money to augment classroom supplies, and then get reimbursed later.
One public school teacher explained in a post that while bond paper supply falls under public school's Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE), this cun also covers schools’ utility bills and repairs of school equipment, among others. This limits the allocation for bond paper, even though it is prioritized.
“Our MOOE can only allot around P57 per student monthly. However, our current estimation is that P80-P100 is needed for a student’s module per month. There really is a deficit,” Shirley* said in Filipino.
Shirley teaches in a public school in Cebu province that caters to almost 3,000 students. Each student has 7 or 8 subjects.
To fill in the huge demand for paper, their school principal suggested asking donations from their stakeholders. To reach a wider audience, Teacher Shirley’s former student took the initiative to post the campaign on social media.
Started only on August 5, the online initiative was able to bring in P1,750, equivalent to 7 reams of bond paper, and an additional 3 reams of bond paper donations.
Alyssa Mae Bacurio, a public school teacher from Samar, said she joined the campaign to look for kind-hearted individuals online.
Bacurio said the bond paper her school previously bought may not be enough for SLMs and worksheets. As soon as the school’s stocks of bond papers run out, they would need to either rely on donations or their own pockets.
“You cannot really avoid those instances where you have to use your own money when you’re under DepEd, right? But, we can have these expenses reimbursed when our next MOOE arrives. We just need to present official receipts,” she said in Filipino.
Bacurio also said that their school considered asking for additional funds from their local government unit (LGU) to buy paper. They did not pursue this as they heard that some LGUs werealready giving funds to DepEd Division Offices (DO) which are then planning to distribute the already-printed materials.
Some teachers urged the DepEd to push back the start of the school year given, that modules are yet to be completely printed and distributed in schools.
Quezon City Public School Teachers Association president Kris Navales said DepEd should base the opening of classes upon the availability of the learning resources, not simply because it’s August.
“For me, practically speaking, DepEd should move the opening of classes – not on August 24. They should move it based on their readiness...since they promised to give the modules.... They have all the means to do so,” Navales said in Filipino.
“It’s hard to open classes when you’re really not prepared,” he added. “In the end, they might put the blame on teachers when, in reality, it is them who are not ready," Navales added.
Given the situation of teachers using their own resources for SLMs, ACT-Teachers Representative France Castro has already lobbied, under the Bayanihan 2 bill, for more resources for teachers during the pandemic.
Castro explained that teachers receive a P3,500 supplies allowance per school year which is not enough, especially now that teachers have to spend on laptops, internet connectivity, and mobile load to contact the parents of students.
If approved, her proposal under Bayanihan 2 would give an additional P1,500 to the teachers, which she hopes would at least help them this school year.
Distance learning offers different modalities in delivering education, including online learning and modular learning.
In online learning, teachers deliver their lessons to students through teleconferencing and other internet-based tools. Modular learning uses SLMs that are delivered weekly to the homes of students or are picked up at schools.
DepEd said both of these learning modes are to be in conjunction with others, including its plan to use TV- and radio-based broadcast to give lessons. As of now, DepEd has yet to give information as to how lessons would be delivered through television and radio. – Rappler.com
*Name has been changed for privacy
Loreta Arroyo is a Rappler intern from the University of Santo Tomas. She is an incoming senior taking up Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. She is also the incumbent president of the UST Journalism Society, the official student organization of the oldest journalism school in Asia.