"Wala pa kaming hawak na mga modules. Hindi pa rin namin naa-aral ang laman ng modules na ide-deliver," Teacher Baby* told Rappler on Tuesday night, August 4, when asked how she was preparing for the class opening on August 24. (We still don't have copies of the modules. We haven't studied yet the content of the modules to be delivered.)
Teacher Baby, who has been teaching MAPEH (Music, Arts, Physical Education, and Health) for 32 years in a public school in Navotas, said she worries how to start the school year since she hasn’t seen yet the copies of the self-learning modules (SLMs).
Since they were told to prepare activity sheets that would come with SLMs, Teacher Baby said they just based them on last year’s lessons for the time being.
"Yung [mangagaling na modules] sa DO (Division Office), sinabihan kami na walang gagastusin si teacher. Magtutulong si DO at si local government unit [sa pag reproduce] pero ang masaklap hanggang ngayon ay wala pa kaming hawak," she said.
(We were told that we would not spend anything on the printing of the modules from the DO. The DO and LGU will shoulder the reproduction cost, but the problem is, we still don't have them.)
She could not tell when they would receive the SLMs.
This is also the problem of Teacher Robert* who has been teaching Filipino for 3 years in a public school in Pasig.
"Mayroon nasa 80% na nakakatapos na raw pero mayroon pa talagang hindi pa nakakatapos hanggang sa ngayon," he said. (Some say they are 80% done with the printing, but others are nowhere near done.)
In a statement on Friday, August 7, DepEd Navotas said that soft copies of the division-developed SLMs have been uploaded in a Google drive link since June 22.
"Most teachers are aware where to access the SLMs through their supervisors in charge of every subject areas," DepEd Navotas said in a statement.
It also said that it has released a new memorandum to its teachers on Friday, indicating where they can access the SLMs online.
"The LGU shouldered the reproduction cost for printing and of Self-Learning Modules amounting P15 million for the first month of the school year 2020-2021. The modules have been delivered since August 1 and have since delivered since August 3 by the commercial service provider and LGU-paid service personnel even if NCR is under modified enhanced community quarantine," it said.
According to Raymond Basilio, secretary general of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT), they also received reports from teachers who are having issues with the modular learning preparations.
With no SLMs on hand, Basilio said that teachers "have no choice but to make do with what they have or else students will have no materials to use" when classes formally start on August 24.
Modular learning is most preferred by parents for the conduct of distance learning for the coming school year, according to a Department of Education (DepEd) survey released on July 30.
In July, DepEd said it had started printing SLMs for students who would be unable to participate in online classes.
Undersecretary Diosdado San Antonio said that DepEd shared the SLMs to its regional and division offices to decentralize reproduction and speed up printing.
Division and district offices are in charge of printing.
But Basilio said that ACT also received reports from division offices and schools having a hard time reproducing SLMs due to printing cost.
"Reproduction cost is also a big problem as schools were forced to find ways to raise funds in so short a time, depleting the meager school MOOE (Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses), soliciting for private donations, and maximizing teachers' personal printers just to jumpstart the reproduction," Basilio said.
Basilio said that many reported that LGUs helped save them from these problems, but LGU commitments in some areas were not yet delivered.
"Some divisions have shared that they received a few hundred thousand pesos from the central office for module printing but this would not even cover a tenth of the millions of pesos needed to reproduce the modules for the first grading period," Basilio said.
Asked for comment, Undersecretary Anne Sevilla told reporters on Tuesday that DepEd has funds to reproduce the learning modules.
"We have downloaded funds down to division offices. Total of about P9 billion already," Sevilla said.
Sevilla added that actual contributions from Special Education Funds (SEF) of local government units and from Brigada Eskwela "shall be considered in the provision of funds to cover learning resources."
"The calibration and prioritization of funds are given at the regional and division levels as they are on the ground and have more accurate data in terms of actual enrolment and actual external contribution," she explained.
Despite calls to delay classes, Education Secretary Leonor Briones said that classes would open on August 24 "whatever form it is."
Many have criticized the DepEd's decision to open schools in the middle of a health crisis. (READ: No student left behind? During pandemic, education 'only for those who can afford')
The DepEd achieved its target enrollment rate of 80% for the coming school year. According to latest data, some 22.4 million students have registered in public and private schools nationwide for school year 2020-2021, which is only 80% of last year's 27.7 million enrollees.
Private schools have raised concerns over their "alarmingly low" enrolment turnout for the coming school year.
As of August 3, a total of 1,403,430 students have so far enrolled in private schools – only a quarter of last year's 4.4 million enrollees.
In a pre-recorded meeting of the cabinet members with President Rodrigo Duterte aired on Friday, July 31, Briones said that DepEd would launch the school opening, including the distance learning guidelines, on August 10. – Rappler.com
*Names have been changed for privacy