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87.6% of surveyed NCR teachers say school internet not strong enough to host their classes

By ACT Philippines
April 18, 2022

QUEZON CITY – In a survey conducted by the ACT NCR Union, 8,106 of the 9,254 teacher-respondents from the region answered no when asked if their school internet can service all teachers who will be conducting simultaneous online classes now that DepEd mandated a 100% workforce reporting on-site. This was the top issue raised by survey participants, followed by health risks in light of the still on-going pandemic, then by transportation concerns.

ACT NCR Union leaders went to the DepEd-NCR office today to demand a dialogue regarding these issues and to register their call for the suspension of the implementation of DepEd memorandum 29, s. 2022, which effected the mandatory physical reporting of all teachers in areas under Alert Level 1.

“It’s no secret that our public schools are in dire conditions, especially after being on lockdown for more than two years. Many of our schools don’t even have enough supply of clean running water, sapat na internet pa kaya para sa, halimbawa, 100 plus na guro kada eskwelahan? Some of our teachers reported to have had to resort to asynchronous digital classes instead of holding online synchronous classes in order to consume lower internet bandwidths, which was all their school internet can handle.

In other cases, teachers have LGU-provided data allocations which they can use to hold online classes; however, they reported of having ‘dead spots’ within the school premises, forcing multiple teachers who – all simultaneously holding their own classes – to share small areas with enough cell reception. This is what we mean when we say that the blanket DepEd memo will have counterproductive impacts on the already challenging education delivery amid the pandemic,” lamented ACT NCR Union President Vladimer Quetua.

Today is the first day of implementation of DM 29, s.2022 in most schools in the National Capital Region. Last week, the group publicly called for the suspension of the order and instead pushed for a flexible and needs-based and -responsive working arrangements for public school teachers. It argued that the nature of teachers’ work vastly differs from that of other government employees – with the former’s being closely tied to the presence of students in schools, which is currently still at a minimum due to the slow expansion of limited face-to-face classes. ACT also argued that schools are not ready to host teachers employing distance learning modalities, nor are schools equipped with sufficient health measures to protect employees from the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, 31.6% of those surveyed said that the school will not provide hygiene kits to teachers, while 36.7% are unsure if the school has any plan to do so.

“Forcing a blanket policy among teachers – and without any prior consultation – unnecessarily puts teachers in more challenging conditions, without any guarantee of support from DepEd, and while further impeding education delivery. The last two years have forced us to adapt to the pandemic: we have procured internet connections at home, we have setup a system for handling multiple learning modalities for our students, only for it to be completely disregarded and disrupted by this new order that was implemented without enough thought and preparation. DepEd officials are terribly blind to our conditions and deaf to our justified calls,” Quetua criticized.

ACT NCR Union reiterates its call on the agency to suspend the memorandum’s implementation and discuss with its employees’ duly recognized representatives a working arrangement that is ‘more responsive’ to the needs of education and ‘less onerous’ to public school teachers. ACT is the sole and exclusive negotiating agent for public school teachers in NCR.

“Even prior to this memo, teachers have been coming to school regularly to print, retrieve, and distribute moduels, to prepare their schools for its eventual re-opening, to attend meetings, among others. Teachers have been showing up to respond to the actual needs of education in the midst of the pandemic, despite little to no support from DepEd and the Duterte admin. We have gone above and beyond to ensure learning continuity amid the health and socio-economic crises, often shouldering the massive burden of the state’s duty to the youth. It’s high time that DepEd officials listen to our demands,” concluded Quetua.