Leaving it to LGUs to provide gadgets to students can further digital divide – group

Bonz Magsambol

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Leaving it to LGUs to provide gadgets to students can further digital divide – group
Some local governments are rich, some aren't. A teachers' group says the national government should step in.

MANILA, Philippines – While they commended the initiative of local government units to provide gadgets to students for distance learning, a teachers’ group on Monday, June 8, also expressed concerns that leaving it to LGUs to do this might further “widen the digital divide.”

“These are highly-urbanized cities and among the richest in our country, so obviously they have the capacity, while others do not,” said Teachers’ Dignity Coalition (TDC) national chairperson Benjo Basas. (READ: No student left behind? During pandemic, education ‘only for those who can afford’)

LGUs in Metro Manila – such as Pasig, Taguig, Manila, and Quezon City – have pledged to give their students and teachers gadgets for distance learning since schools won’t be opening physically in August

TDC also commended the initiative of the local school board (LSB) of Malolos City in Bulacan for providing its 1,700 teachers with portable broadband, flash drives, alcohol, and masks. 

Basas urged other LSBs to realign funds from repair and maintenance, as well as construction and sports facilities, to technological needs of both teachers and students in their areas.

“The need for a building may not be that urgent, even the sports activities are suspended. So it may be wise if we spend the money for digital needs. However, to be fair to all, the national government must step in,” Basas said.

Created by the Local Government Code, LSBs are mandated to allocate the Special Education Fund to meet the supplementary needs of the local public school system. 

The TDC also urged the Department of Education (DepEd) to delay classes until January 2021 to give teachers more time to prepare for the distance learning approach.

Distance learning means lessons will be delivered outside the traditional face-to-face setup. (READ: FAST FACTS: DepEd’s distance learning) 

In a statement on Monday morning, Briones said that the DepEd would comply with President Rodrigo Duterte’s directive to postpone face-to-face classes until a vaccine against COVID-19 becomes available. 

As of Monday, the DepEd said that over 6 million students signed up during the first week of remote enrollment.

The initial total enrollees, however, is just a 5th of last year’s 27.7 million students.

As of June 5, the Philippines has 20,626 confirmed coronavirus cases, with 987 deaths and 4,339 recoveries. – Rappler.com


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Bonz Magsambol

Bonz Magsambol covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler.