PUBLIC school students may contract the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) from the Department of Education’s self-learning modules (SLMs) that some of them will have to share with each other.
Undersecretary Diosdado San Antonio said that since there are not enough learning modules, there is a need to disinfect them before they are passed to the next student.
“There are also areas where modules will be used on rotation basis provided that they are sanitized before distribution to the next set of learners,” he told the House committee on appropriations during the budget briefing on the Department of Education’s P754.4 billion proposed budget for 2021 on Tuesday night.
On the questioning of Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) party-list Rep. France Castro, San Antonio said two to four students can use one module in some areas where there are not enough supplies.
Since there are more than P22 million public school students enrolled this year, DepEd Undersecretary Annalyn Sevilla noted the government will need to spend P35 billion to meet the 1:1 module-to-student ratio.
However, only P15 billion is allocated for the procurement of modules under the DepEd’s 2021 budget.
Deputy speaker Rodante Marcoleta of SAGIP party-list said only 40 percent of the needed competencies can be sourced from the modules, which prompted San Antonio to say the DepEd is already reviewing the curriculum.
Deputy Speaker Luis Raymond Villafuerte said at least one learning center for children with special needs (CSNs) should be established by the government in each school division in the country to ensure the access to education of CSNs despite their poverty.
Villafuerte’s House Bill (HB) No. 7632 provides that for big school divisions, at least three of these special education (SPED) centers should be set up in regular schools where there are no existing SPED centers “in order to meet the goal of affording children with special needs the right to education as enshrined in the 1987 Constitution and the international convention on the rights of children.”
“This bill seeks to provide our children with special needs the opportunity to be educated in the best available environment with the right education that meets their specific needs,” he said.
The Departments of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and of Health (DOH) have reported that there are about 4,124,833 persons with disabilities (PWDs) in the country, 21 percent of whom are children.
Of this number, only seven percent have access to educational opportunities, given that poverty and physical distance from schools have hindered most of them from gaining access to education. Often, private institutions that offer services for CSNs are too expensive and inaccessible, Villafuerte said.