"There are parents who are 'no-read, no-write.' They are sending their children to school because they don’t want their children to be like them. Who would teach the students now at home? This kind of modular learning is really difficult. Not all parents are capable of guiding their children," a Laguna public elementary school teacher said in an earlier interview. (READ: No student left behind? During pandemic, education 'only for those who can afford')
To address the issue of students not having anyone to facilitate distance learning at home, the Department of Education (DepEd) said on Monday, September 28, that it would hire learning support aides (LSAs) to help teachers cope with the revamped education system.
The tasks of LSAs include the following:
In a virtual press briefing on Monday, Education Undersecretary Jesus Mateo said that hiring LSAs would also ease the workload of teachers who have been reportedly experiencing burnout due to school opening preparations.
Mateo said that schools division offices (SDOs) will prioritize the hiring of teacher applicants for school year 2020-2021. They are those who were not given permanent or provisional appointments due to lack of available plantilla items.
If there will still be positions left for LSAs, the division offices will issue a call for applications. Those who passed the Licensure Examination for Teachers (LET) in the locality, and displaced private school teachers can also apply as LSAs, Mateo said.
Interested applicants may contact their nearest SDOs, and check their call for applications, Mateo said.
During House deliberations on the DepEd's proposed 2021 budget on Tuesday, September 15, Education Undersecretary Anne Sevilla said that no funding was allocated for hiring LSAs, as the agency only has a budget for hiring regular teaching positions. (READ: DepEd has no budget to hire aides for distance learning)
Mateo said that if schools want to hire LSAs, they could use their funds for Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses and their Special Education Fund (SEF) instead.
LSAs will be hired under "contract of service" or "job order." They will be employed for a period of at least 6 months subject to renewal.
"Hindi po tayo pu-puwede na lumagpas ng 6 months para po sa ganoon ay ma-assess natin kung kinakailangan po o angkop ang serbisyo ng ating mga learning aides," Mateo explained.
(Contracts cannot go beyond 6 months so we could assess if we still need LSAs or their service is appropriate.)
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. (READ: What will the PH's first day of school look like in a pandemic?)