Duterte on DepEd's distance learning: 'I don't know if we're ready'

Just like many parents, President Rodrigo Duterte is doubtful that the country is ready for the Department of Education's (DepEd) distance learning approach during the coronavirus pandemic.

In a recorded address aired on Friday, June 5, Duterte once again reiterated his earlier statement that there should be no classes until a COVID-19 vaccine is developed. (READ: 'Bakuna muna': Duterte rejects August opening of classes)

"Maghintay ng vaccine (We should wait for the vaccine). Walang vaccine, walang eskwela (No vaccine, no classes). Secretary [Leonor] Briones is insisting that there is an alternative there. She has a very good program for that like teleconferencing. The technology is good. I don't know if we are ready for that," Duterte said.

The President expressed doubts about the country's capability to implement Briones' idea.

"We are talking of students here, it's millions. Mayroon ba siya? (Does she have?) But if she has or if we can afford it, we'll buy it and she can proceed with her novel idea of how the children can continue with their education," he added.

Briones earlier said that distance learning is a major component of learning delivery for the incoming school year. Distance learning means lessons will be delivered outside the traditional face-to-face setup.

The decision to open schools in the middle of the health crisis has been met with criticism. (READ: No student left behind? During pandemic, education 'only for those who can afford')

Parents and students pointed out that the lockdown affected household finances. Many Filipinos don't even have access to a computer or the internet.

A teachers' group on June 3 also said that while a face-to-face setup for learning is out of the equation for now, delaying the opening of classes would give them more time to prepare for the distance learning approach. (READ: Teachers' group wants class opening delayed to January 2021)

The DepEd maintained the lack of access to technology should not be a problem as schools will be providing printed modules for students. (READ: No need to buy gadgets, printed materials will be given – DepEd)

The DepEd said they will release a statement on the President's remarks soon.

As of Friday, the Philippines has 20,626 confirmed coronavirus cases, with 987 deaths and 4,339 recoveries. – Rappler.com

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.