MANILA, Nov 1 (Mabuhay) — Philippine public schools are still unprepared for full face-to-face classes after two years of online and blended learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Alliance of Concerned Teachers said on Monday.

School children sing the national anthem during an ordinary school day. (MNS photo)

At a press conference two days before the scheduled start of in-person classes, ACT Secretary-General Raymond Basilio renewed teachers’ call for adequate classrooms and armchairs, more support personnel, and reduced workload.

ACT also called for cutting the number of students per class to 35 students, and for more learning and teaching resources such as laptops and internet allowance. 

“Kung handa ba ang Department of Education, handa ba ang gobyernong Marcos para sa full face-to-face classes, sa totoo lang, hindi kasi nila ginawa ‘yung assignment nila eh no,” Basilio said.

“Ang nakakatawa dito ay more than 100 days na sila sa pwesto, ay wala silang naaayos dito, maliban sa sinabi lang nila na magbubukas tayo ng face-to-face classes at parang iniwan sa ere ‘yung mga teachers at mga school heads na maghanap ng solusyon kung papaano matitiyak ‘yung pagbubukas ng klase by November 2,” he added.

(The funny thing here is that they have assumed office for more than 100 days now, but they haven’t fixed anything yet. They just said that face-to-face classes would resume and it seemed like they left the teachers and school heads to find solutions on how to make this happen by November 2.)

ACT also asked for an increase in the budget for the schools’ Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOEs), for the establishment of safety and health facilities, to provide cash assistance to poor families so their children could go to schools, and implement an evidence-based education recovery program.

Basilio said that teachers had been telling the government since June that the  solution to the problems in schools was the provision of enough funds for the DepEd to address these concerns.

Basilio said teachers supported the reopening of schools to resume face-to-face classes as students had suffered learning losses amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Among the problems which appeared with partial face-to-face classes that started on August 22, were the lack of teachers and the shortage of classrooms.

In August, DepEd spokesperson Atty. Michael Poa admitted there was a shortage of around 40,000 classrooms all over the country.

Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte had said classroom shortage should not be an excuse to keep the students from going back to in-person classes this year.

To address the lack of teachers, on the other hand, DepEd said it was looking to hire around 10,000 teachers for school year 2023-2024.

The agency said it was also looking at reducing or totally eliminating the administrative and special tasks of teachers.

Poa said DepEd would also hire non-teaching personnel based on their assessment on the volume of administrative tasks of teachers. (MNS)