MANILA, Philippines — Senator Grace Poe is pushing for the granting of internet connectivity allowance to public school teachers as the country’s basic education system shifts to digital learning amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.
In filing Senate Resolution 456, Poe urged the Department of Education (DepEd) to grant internet allowance to elementary and secondary public school teachers during the conduct of online classes to “unburden” them of extra expenses.
“Access and connectivity to the internet will pose a challenge to students and teachers alike in the new normal of conducting classes. Compliance to requirements that demand access to the internet has long been a problem of our teachers,” she said in her resolution.
“A Facebook post went viral last April 2019 featuring the struggles of teachers from Abuyog, Leyte who needed to climb up mountains to get internet access and submit required forms and year-end reports,” she noted.
The senator, chair of the Senate public services committee, said the P3,500 one-time cash assistance provided by DepEd amid the pandemic “is not enough to sustain their connectivity needs throughout the period of online classes.”
“Kung dati, chalk ang binibili ng ating mga guro, ngayon, load na. ‘Di hamak na mas mahal ‘yun,” Poe said.
(Before, teachers needed to buy chalk, but now they would need to pay for internet load, which is pricier).
Poe also suggested that teachers be allowed to avail of discounts for their internet “load,” which will be utilized when they conduct their online classes.
“The government should ensure that teachers who are in charge of the noble task of shaping the minds of the next generation are given assistance and support commensurate to their vital role,” she said.
“It is high time for the government to provide additional allowance to teachers to upgrade their digital access and technological capacity and ensure that they are well-equipped to continually assure quality education to their students in this time of pandemic,” she added.
Poe cited a suggestion from a teachers’ group, which proposed for a P1,500-monthly internet connection allowance.
Should DepEd provide the said amount to all of its over 800,000 teachers, Poe projected the cost at around P1.285 billion per month or P12.855 billion for 10 months.
“This is only four percent (4%) of the total of USD6.4 billion loans incurred by the government to support the COVID-19 response efforts,” her resolution noted.
The senator, chair of the Senate public services committee, further urged that the government “encourage and assist” private schools to provide the same assistance to their teachers.
Poe’s committee is set to conduct a hearing on the state of the country’s connectivity and determine ways to ensure that poor students have access to a stable internet connection.
“Maraming bata ang pursigidong mag-aral pero walang kakayahan. Hirap bumili ng notebook, paano pa kaya ngayon na laptop o computer ang kailangan?” she said.
(A lot of students are really driven to study but do not have the financial capacity. They struggle to purchase notebooks, what more now that laptops or computers are needed?)
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