To our beloved teachers,
We are partners in this pandemic. We must support each other now more than ever.
The DepEd and CHED’s bias towards profit despite this crisis has made it clear we are both the primary victims of this corrupt education system. The government is failing to address the pandemic, yet they still manage to hold the door open for capitalist-educators to profit off of education at our expense.
The meager wages you endure are as contentious as the exorbitant tuition fees imposed on us. We empathize with your struggles, which are close to our own.
We, your students, face a dangerous situation, as do your own children. Nevertheless, as our second parents, we also hear your troubles. It is clear that we are not safe in this pandemic situation. The government and different institutions’ moves to continue classes won’t be of any help. To keep each other safe, an academic freeze is necessary. Our lives will be in graver danger should the academic year push through. (READ: [ANALYSIS] School opening 2020: Immediate concerns, longer-term structural reforms)
Did the government bother to ensure that their solutions were acceptable and appropriate? Online classes exclude many students without means. Modular learning does not guarantee quality education. Blended learning increases the chances of local transmission between teachers and students. All of these are nothing short of problematic, especially with COVID-19 cases rising every day in our country.
We, the youth, deserve quality education. But where will we get money for internet access? How will we study well at home if the danger of the virus infecting our loved ones looms large, since they have to go outside to get our modules from school? How can any of us be expected to focus on studying if every day our stomachs ache with hunger?
The burdens you, our teachers, face are also severe. The no work, no pay policy in our system adds unimaginable suffering. It is the government and the private educational institutions’ responsibility to ensure that you receive the wages and benefits you are due. (READ: [OPINION] Thoughts of a chemistry teacher in the middle of a pandemic)
Several months have already passed since the community quarantine was implemented, creating problems detrimental to the health of every teacher, employee, and student. Intense anxiety and fatigue affect each and every one of us due to the half-assed solutions and overall negligence of the government. The masses continue to starve. The private sector, thinking only of their profits instead of the well-being of their workers, only worsens the situation.
Students, teachers, workers, and parents are not the enemies here. The guilty party behind this suffering is not us, but the government who left us for dead.
Once more, we wholeheartedly ask for your support. Together, let us demand that DepEd and CHED heed our calls for an academic freeze. United, let us hold the government accountable for the wages, benefits, and health care you are owed. Let us help each other stop the injustices inflicted on us, and demand from the government the aid we deserve; in this stormy and dangerous sea, we are in the same boat.
Our lives are worth more than the profits of capitalist-educators. They are the ones who must pay.
Theresa Mae Dulman, 18, is an incoming Grade 12 student at Bacolod National High School and a member of Samahan ng Progresibong Kabataan (SPARK).