To cut on costs, DepEd to ask students with gadgets to no longer get printed modules

To save costs on printing the self-learning modules (SLMs), the Department of Education (DepEd) is discouraging students with gadgets from getting learning modules from their teachers.

Education Undersecretary Diosdado San Antonio said this during a virtual press briefing on Monday, September 28, adding that for the first quarter they tried to deliver the preference of students and parents for printed learning modules. (READ: 8.8 million parents prefer modular learning for students – DepEd)

"What we're pushing is for the succeeding grading quarters, we will discourage families who have gadgets to get printed self-learning modules. And this would mean a significant reduction in our requirements," San Antonio said in a mix of English and Filipino.

In May, DepEd said that parents don’t need to buy gadgets for their children in the conduct of classes this year because schools will be providing printed module materials for them. (READ: No need to buy gadgets, printed materials will be given – DepEd)

But weeks before the school opening, Education Secretary Leonor Briones said that reproduction of SLMs is expensive, not just financially but environmentally. (READ: Briones says modular learning 'expensive,' has 'big effect' on environment)

Education Undersecretary Anne Sevilla said that according to DepEd estimates, P35 billion is needed for the printing of SLMs for millions of public school students. This is on top of the P9 billion it already obtained in funds last July.

San Antonio said that almost 13 million public school students or 59% of roughly 22 million enrollees this year will be using printed modules. That would require felling an enormous number of trees to produce paper.

Senator Ralph Recto, an economist, estimated that 93.6 billion pages of learning modules for millions of public school students will be needed just for one full academic year.

In a virtual press briefing on September 21, Education Undersecretary Anne Sevilla said that students might have to share modules by next year because there aren't enough funds to reproduce learning materials. (READ: Students might have to share modules next year due to lack of funding – DepEd)

The idea of sharing modules, however, raised concerns over fears of contracting the coronavirus. (READ: Is it safe? Teachers fear exposure to coronavirus in modular learning setup)

During the briefing, San Antonio said they will partner with private publishers for the reproduction of SLMs for the 3rd and 4th grading quarters.

Online modular learning

If students won't be getting the printed modules, they will get the lessons and activities from their teachers in digital format to be saved on their flash drives.

"You don't even need to have access to the internet to get the digital format of the self-learning modules. Puwede kasi yan sa flash drives (It can be saved on flash drives)," San Antonio said when asked how students would acquire the digital format of SLMs.

DepEd shifted to distance learning for the coming school year to comply with President Rodrigo Duterte's directive for schools to delay face-to-face classes until a coronavirus vaccine becomes available. Local experts said that in a best case scenario, the earliest that the country could access a vaccine is the second quarter of 2021.

As of Monday, a total of 24,661,788 public and private schools have signed up for the school opening. This is 3 million less than last year's 27.7 million enrollees.

Public schools are set to open on October 5, while some private schools began their classes in August. –

Bonz Magsambol

Bonz Magsambol is a multimedia reporter for Rappler, covering health, education, and social welfare. He first joined Rappler as a social media producer in 2016.