Teachers to DepEd: Can we use some of 437 vehicles?
MANILA, Philippines — Underpaid and overworked teachers on Wednesday asked the Department of Education (DepEd) to assign some of the 437 vehicles purchased by the department to the task of distributing modules to remote areas and give teachers a little bit more protection from the deadly coronavirus.
The Teachers’ Dignity Coalition (TDC) said in a statement that the DepEd purchased 254 Mitsubishi Strada trucks, costing about P370 million, before the pandemic for the use of agency engineers in inspecting school buildings in addition to the 183 passenger vans that were bought earlier for P145 million.
Undersecretary Alain Pascua had earlier explained that the vehicles, which he claimed to have been bought at the lowest possible price, were for engineers who had to inspect school buildings in mountainous and other remote areas.
Teachers’ own expense
But Benjo Basas, TDC national president, said teachers, who are not given any transportation or internet connectivity allowances, have also been going to remote areas almost on a daily basis to distribute modules they made, frequently at their own expense, to their students.
“What buildings are they inspecting and how hard is it exactly to reach these schools? How often must they conduct inspections? If there is anyone who needs those vehicles more, it is the teachers,” Basas said.
Already under pressure to produce error-free modules, Basas said some teachers get by with support from their local government but most teachers do not get any support from the DepEd.
Annalyn Sevilla, education undersecretary for finance, earlier explained that the DepEd was “not authorized” to distribute allowances for teachers because it was not included in the agency’s budget and they had to secure authorization from the Department of Budget and Management before they could set aside funding.
The DepEd also promised to give teachers allowances for internet connectivity but the agency has yet to release additional information as to the amount that educators would receive monthly.
“No matter which angle we look at, it is not right that the DepEd purchased hundreds of expensive vehicles while our teachers beg for financial aid just to produce modules for their students. Who is the DepEd’s real priority?” Basas said.
Even before public schools reopened on Oct. 5, parents and concerned citizens have been posting photos of modules allegedly produced by the DepEd that contained lewd terms, discouraged students from joining protests and promoted gender stereotyping.
The DepEd has either denied making the erroneous modules or said it would investigate the schools that distributed such learning materials.
As of last week, the DepEd has claimed that only three of the error-filled modules underwent the scrutiny of its central office, while the rest were locally produced materials.
June Gudoy, DepEd public affairs service director, urged the public to report any mistake they may find in modules to the DepEd Error Watch, the agency’s reporting mechanism that validates errors found in learning materials.
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