July 19, 2024

Distance learning is ‘discriminatory, inaccessible, and anti-poor’

Access to education, one of the tenets of our basic human rights, must be given to every Filipino by our government. That also comes with the materials and the opportunities that will be possible for everyone, regardless of background. However, continued neglect in providing opportunities for the marginalized sector made acquisition of education a privilege for a few than an essential right for all.
With the advent of Covid-19, DepEd’s solution to bringing learning to Filipino children is the “distance learning” approach. DepEd proposes to use gadgets such as computers, laptops, and smartphones as well as a traditional medium, such as radio and television. It goes without saying that in order to access learning modules, students must also have Internet connection and electricity.
Such recommendations are well and good for a select few, but not for everyone.
In the rural areas, farmers and fisherfolks struggle to make ends meet, more so in the time of Covid-19. Most peasant families’ monthly cost of living reaches around P15,000 to P21,000. It is absurd and outrightly unreasonable for Filipino peasants and other marginalized sectors to be burdened with procuring these gadgets and the costs attached to it over their basic needs like food and medicine.
Reports of challenges to DepEd’s proposal are coming from all over prior to its full implementation. Teachers from the rural parts of the country, who are already handicapped with the lack of educational materials and access to technology as well as support from the government, struggle to attend Web seminars from DepEd. Various reports have shown teachers camping on mountains just to access ISP’s signals and attend those webinars.
Without going down to the lived experiences of every Filipino in the country to guide its decisions, the educational system under DepEd will only continue to benefit a select few.
We cannot push through with this unreasonable and anti-poor plan. We call on DepEd to rethink their alternative plans for learning.
In this time, it is imperative that focus should be on the lowering of the cases and casualties from Covid-19. — VITTO LARDIZABAL, Rural Women Advocates