Students to be given radios if TV, online classes not doable, says Duterte
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte said the government would distribute radios to poor students without access to the internet or television so that they could continue their studies without being physically present in school while the COVID-19 pandemic remained a threat to the country.
Duterte earlier said he did not want to put students at risk of infection with the new coronavirus in classrooms until there was a vaccine against the severe respiratory disease.
At the same time, he said he felt pity for those who had no TV, or cell phones or other devices that could connect to the internet to continue their education outside a classroom setting. But a radio, he said, could help them access educational programs.
He told a meeting of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases on Monday night that transistor radios could be purchased for around P300 each and given away “to all barangays that could be reached by radio so that the poor could communicate with their teachers.”
“I would look for the money to buy transistor radios to be distributed all throughout the country,” Duterte said.
He said that while the country was still trying to contain the pandemic, it would follow a “blended” learning approach, which would involve distance and online instructions using communications technology and digital devices.
He did not say how many students would need radios.
The Department of Education (DepEd) is still doing a survey during the current enrollment period to determine how many students had gadgets or devices and internet connection that could be used for remote learning.
As of Tuesday, nearly 11 million students had enrolled in public schools, including more than 5.4 million in the elementary grades and over 4.7 million in junior and senior high school.
DepEd talks with stations
Education Secretary Leonor Briones said the DepEd’s regional directors were negotiating with local radio stations to reduce the cost of airing educational shows.
Briones said she was also negotiating with two telecommunications companies to allow the free use of their facilities.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the DepEd was looking to enter into contracts with community radio stations because only their broadcasts could reach some of the remote areas in the country.
Roque also believes the administration will be able to find the money to purchase these radios.
He cited the savings that could be generated from not holding classes inside classrooms.
—With a report from Matthew Reysio-Cruz
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