Indeed we believe that Davao City first district councilor Pilar Braga, chair of the Sangguniang Panlungsod Education Committee, has every reason to be elated after hearing President Rodrigo Duterte’s 5th State of the Nation (SONA) speech last Monday. And why would she not when the Davaoeno President put in categorical terms his assurance that there will be no face-to-face classes until January of next year?
Yes, one of the issues that the President was emphatic about during his SONA was his commitment that he will not risk the health of the millions of students and teachers by allowing them to be inside congested classrooms at least five days a week.
President Duterte knows that by delaying the resumption of face-to-face classes by at least four months there is already the likelihood of the discovery and mass production of vaccines that can control the corona virus disease (CoViD) 19 infection.
Having worked with the President when he was still mayor of Davao City and the first district lady dad was serving as the SP education body chair, Braga knows Duterte “walks his talk.” That is, what he says he does and gets done.
Being the current SP Education committee chair Braga is well aware of the student-classroom ratio in Davao City, especially in public schools. In fact the city’s largest schools in terms of student population such as Davao City High School, Daniel R. Aguinaldo National High School, Magallanes Elementary School, and the Sta. Ana National High School, among others, are conducting two class sessions every school day. This is done in spite of the fact that in these schools the student-classroom ratio is averaging 60 to 1.
So with the President’s assurance of a no face-to-face classes until vaccines are available Braga now heaves a deep sigh of relief.
But we think she should also do something at the council level to help students see through the planned on-line and blended education scheme while waiting for the CoViD 19 to vanish. Here are the very likely problems that students will be facing with the on-line and blended classes and what Braga could recommend to be done:
1. Elementary and secondary students especially of public schools mostly do not have the gadgets needed for the cyber class sessions. She can prod the City Division of Schools with support from the local government, to conduct a survey to know how many students have laptops, table computers, and on-line ready mobile phones. She can also demand from Davao Light the number of barangays all over the city already reached by the power grid and served with electricity.
2. A good number of villages in the city especially those in the rural areas do not have signal of the existing telecommunications (Telcos) service providers. Again the lady councilor of District 1 can demand from the Telcos concerned an inventory of unserved barangays and those not reached by their present signal transmission capacity.
We have no doubt that the result of the survey on number of students in possession of gadgets for on-line classes as well as the information that will be submitted by the power and telecommunications firms on the reach of their respective services will be excellent basis for the Education council chair to craft ordinances that can help the students respond better on the use of on-line teaching scheme.
Braga can recommend to the city government through a resolution the procurement of a number of computer sets to be lent to students on granular basis. Or, since it would be very expensive to provide students with no gadgets with units on a one-is-to-one ratio Braga can recommend to the Department of Education a scheme where the units will be kept by the school in the barangay and issued to students by schedule. Meanwhile, classes of students not scheduled to use the gadgets have to shift to the modular system, and so on and so forth.
As to the data made available from the Telcos and the power provider on the areas not reached by their signal and electricity, respectively, we are certain Braga can coordinate with the chairs of the Sanggunian Committee on Energy and the Committee on Telecommunications, and Information.
After all, these concerned committees of the local lawmaking body have the basis for demanding from the power and telecommunications firms the expansion and improvement of their services, especially of the latter industry.
Hasn’t the President during his SONA last Monday warned the Telcos of drastic action should they fail to upgrade their services by December this year? Braga and the other committee chairs can have the President’s SONA warning as strong reference when they take to task these firms in the local government’s desire to ensure the President’s order is carried out.
In the process, the LGU can help attain the level of quality for education even if classes are done through on-line or blended one.
How about all these Councilor Pilar, do these make sense to you?
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