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As schools reopen, some teachers still lack tools for online classes

/ 05:02 AM July 31, 2020

With online classes about to start next month, many teachers at a school in Quezon City may need to get a loan to buy the tools they need to connect with their students.

But some, like Romeo Baloran, a journalism teacher for the past 30 years, say they cannot afford to borrow more money. He is one of 28 teachers at Culiat High School who will just have to rely on their cellphones to facilitate distance learning.

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The 58-year-old Baloran told the Inquirer that the Government Service Insurance System had offered to loan the school’s 136 teachers P30,000 each at minimum interest.

Too many loans

“We already have too many loans. Should we still get another one?” he said, adding, “Teachers are not rich.” Baloran and his colleagues earn a minimum of P18,000 a month plus an allowance of P1,000.

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When classes start, he said he would just go to Culiat High School every week to use the available computers there.

A former seminarian, Baloran was once given an award for most outstanding journalism teacher in the National Capital Region. He teaches journalism to Grades 9 and 10 students and Filipino to Grade 9 students.

He is also a board member of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers in the school where enrollment has declined amid a rise in coronavirus cases in Quezon City.According to Baloran, he has encouraged parents whom he used to teach decades ago to enroll their children this school year “because this is the only way they can conquer poverty.”

In Quezon City, all 176,000 junior and senior high school students will each get a tablet in time for the opening of classes on Aug. 24.

P1,000 load subsidy

Teachers, on the other hand, will receive a SIM card with a monthly text-and-call load subsidy of P1,000, according to Aly Medalla, education affairs unit head of the city government.

Medalla said the city had allotted a total budget of P2.9 billion this school year under its special education fund, with half of the amount to be spent on buying laptops and tablets.Baloran is hopeful teachers will also be provided laptops. Some of his colleagues have bought secondhand laptops to attend training webinars to prepare them for online instruction.

He also suggested that the mobile load subsidy for teachers be raised to P1,500, since the average P300 weekly load would not be enough for his classes alone.

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Not a priority

“The government’s priority are the students. We understand that. The students will be given access to [online learning]. How about us? But I hope they would also provide laptops for the teachers,” he said.

“The police and military are uniformed personnel. They are given guns… The teachers also should be given their tools. We are being taken for granted,” he lamented.

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TAGS: coronavirus Philippines, COVID-19 Philippines, Education, health crisis, infection, Learning, online classes, pandemic, Quarantine, School
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