By: Jane Bautista, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 4 Nov 2021
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Education (DepEd) on Wednesday maintained that the daily 1-gigabyte data capacity provided to public school teachers was enough to access e-learning and department applications.
In a statement, the DepEd said its own analytics evaluation showed that such an allocation “can support eight hours of videoconferencing” for a day in class.
The agency has provided a total of 102 GB of internet data per teacher or three monthly rations of 34 GB each. A teacher was entitled to 1 GB of daily data that allows access to certain eLearning and DepEd applications and an extra 4 GB each month for open data access.
Some teachers had observed that the DepEd’s data load, under its 349 SIM card and connectivity load program, was not enough to sustain online classes.
Reynante Panlaqui, a teacher from Pasay City West High School, told the Inquirer early this week that while he was using the 1 GB data, the open-access data was also being consumed. Once it had run out, it would stop working even though the one-month period was not yet over, he said.
“At the same time, not all places in the country have a signal for Smart,” Panlaqui said, referring to the telecommunications company that partnered with the DepEd for the connectivity load program.
P1.5K internet allowance
The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) urged the DepEd to have a dialogue with the group regarding its petition for a P1,500 monthly internet allowance for the teachers.
“We’ve since sent several other letters to DepEd bearing various concerns of teachers and the education sector as a whole, including the provision of the said internet allowance, all with requests for dialogue, but unfortunately, these have not been granted,” ACT secretary general Raymond Basilio said.
And with the SMART SIM cards reportedly expiring or about to expire, the need for the DepEd to respond to the petition and sit down for a dialogue with ACT becomes “ever more urgent,” he added.
The DepEd explained that it “proactively requested” the internet cash allowance amounting to almost P18 billion last year from the Commission on Audit (COA) and Department of Budget and Management, but this wasn’t approved.
“Under the current budget of DepEd, there is no existing legal basis and fund cover for such ‘monthly internet/connectivity allowance’,” it said. CoA prohibits payments that have no legal basis, it added.
Also on Wednesday, the DepEd said it had identified 100 public schools that will pilot the resumption of limited in-person classes across the country, except in Metro Manila, on Nov. 15.
Secretary Leonor Briones said the Deped personnel had already inspected the schools and secured the consent of host local governments and the pupils’ parents.
“I don’t think any country in the world has put out such stringent and very very strict requirements for face-to-face [classes] particularly, the consent of the parents,” she said at a Palace press briefing.
Caraga has 14 schools that will join the implementation of in-person classes, while 10 schools each from the regions of Ilocos, Central Luzon, Eastern Visayas, and Northern Mindanao will also participate.
The Bicol region has nine schools reopening while Central Visayas, Davao, and the Zamboanga Peninsula regions have eight schools each that were chosen to join the pilot run. Calabarzon and Soccsksargen have five schools each and Western Visayas has three.
Briones said that if Metro Manila’s community quarantine classification would shift to a lower alert level, the capital region would be included in the second round of the program in March next year.
Assistant Education Secretary Alma Ruby Torio said the agency was still evaluating 20 private schools that had applied for inclusion in the pilot run.
“The public schools submitted an intent [to join the face-to-face classes] and they were subjected to an evaluation process. The same thing will happen to the private schools,” she said.
The list of participating private schools will be disclosed on Nov. 12. They will resume in-person classes on Nov. 22.