The Department of Education (DepEd) said on Monday, September 21, that students might have to share learning modules next year because there aren't enough funds to reproduce learning materials.
Clarifying DepEd's statement during the House budget hearing last week, Education Undersecretary Anne Sevilla said that the agency was referring to the 3rd and 4th quarters when they were asked about the ratio of students and modules.
"For the 1st quarter, in-allow natin na galawin ng mga eskwelahan ang kanilang MOOE (We allowed schools to tap their Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses). For the 2nd quarter, we downloaded funds for this. Baka (Maybe) in 2021, hindi natin maibigay ang 1:1 kasi ang funding natin (we cannot provide the 1:1 modules because our funding ) is only P15 billion. And that will cover 3rd and 4th quarter of this school year," Sevilla said.
Sevilla added that DepEd needs P35 billion to P40 billion for the printing of the learning modules for the 3rd and 4th quarters of the coming school year to achieve a 1:1 module-to-student ratio.
During the House budget hearing last week, lawmakers sought an additional P10 billion in the proposed 2021 budget for the DepEd to fund the printing of the learning modules so students would not have to share them. (READ: Additional P10B in 2021 budget sought for printing of DepEd's learning modules)
Education Undersecretary Diosdado San Antonio said that the modules will be disinfected and shared among students.
He also said that an estimated 13 million or 59% of some 22 million public school students this school year will use the learning modules as mode of distance learning.
Teachers and parents raised concerns over using the modular learning approach due to fears of contracting the coronavirus. (READ: Is it safe? Teachers fear exposure to coronavirus in modular learning setup)
It appears that modular learning – an alternative to the traditional face-to-face classes supposedly meant to eliminate the risk of contracting the deadly virus – could turn out to be unsafe after all.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said in a news release, "Based on data from lab studies on COVID-19 and what we know about similar respiratory diseases, it may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes."
In a previous interview with Rappler, Rose Garcia*, a mother of 4 kids all enrolled in a public school in Quezon City, said having to submit the activity sheets of students once a week would pose risks to parents and teachers alike.
Professor Marilen Balolong, a microbiologist and scientist at the University of the Philippines Manila, told Rappler in a previous interview that a recent study revealed that the virus could remain viable for up to 72 hours on plastics, 48 hours on stainless steel, 24 hours on cardboard, and 4 hours on copper. (WATCH: EXPLAINER: Can you contract coronavirus disease just by touching surfaces?)
The government has allocated P606.5 billion of its proposed P4.5-trillion budget for 2021 to DepEd. (READ: Proposed P4.5-trillion 2021 budget goes to Congress)
While the education sector is set to receive the lion's share of funds, several groups believe the amount is still not enough to cover the needs of the education sector under an overhauled education system. (READ: [ANALYSIS] Why you should be alarmed by Duterte’s 2021 budget)
As of Monday, some 22 million public school students have signed up for the school opening on October 5, while 2.1 million students in private schools have enrolled. Some private schools began holding classes during the first week of August. – Rappler.com
*Name has been changed to protect privacy