Katipunan ng Gurong Makabayan (KAGUMA)-Negros calls out and strongly condemns the US-Duterte regime amid its anti-people policies on education. Duterte and the Department of Education (DepEd) are set on implementing “distance learning” this August 24- a measure that is ironically distanced from the poor who are supposed to be prioritized for education.
While teachers are already horribly underpaid, the modular, online, and TV/Radio-based learning to be implemented as part of the “new normal” are expected to be an additional expense and burden for them. Teachers in the cities are appealing for aid in logistical concerns (gadgets & wifi), and free healthcare due to them becoming frontliners as well. Teachers in mountain barangays are forced to look for signals to attend webinars and enroll their students online, a scene common all over the country. With the Philippines’ internet speed as one of the worst and most expensive in the world, the so-called “digital divide” cannot be addressed with Negros as no exception- and the policy will only make the situation of education worse. Particularly in Negros, the enrollment turnout has been low, reduced by 50% in Bacolod and also deteriorating in other parts of the island.
According to DepEd’s estimates, at least P110.8 billion is needed for this ambitious endeavour compared to a P43.5 billion budget for a soft re-opening of schools implementing social distancing and mass testing for teachers and staff. But since Duterte’s militarized approach does not intend to address this, education will become even more inaccessible to the majority of the Filipino people.
The country’s shortage of teachers are yet to be addressed. Around 80,000 teachers are needed to address the disparity but the regime only targets around 10,000 to be employed this year. Due to labor-export policy and a nailed salary, bachelors for education are geared to either take a detour on their career to make ends meet or accept their low-waged fate. With all this, the sorry state of Philippine education will crumble down further. Instead of succumbing to neoliberal schemes, meaningful reforms for education that support teachers and students should be implemented. Lack of personnel and classrooms, skyrocketing tuition and other fees, repressive and anti-poor educational policies on top of the ongoing public health crisis have proven that only through the national democratic revolution can this commercial, colonial, and repressive educational system be replaced. KAGUMA-Negros calls on teachers and educational staff to muster up our collective strength to topple the insane dictator from his throne. In our thousands, our marches and our calls should resound and unite with our colleagues, students, and the entire Filipino people. We must arouse, organize, and mobilize the academe to push forward our nationalist, scientific, and mass-oriented aim for education in the context of national democratic revolution. ###