Gatchalian: Distance learning inequalities in PH must be bridged

Airing his concern over students’ difficulty in answering modules, Sen. Win Gatchalian on Sunday underscored the need to bridge distance learning inequalities across the country.

In addressing the challenges of distance learning and fostering recovery for the country’s basic education sector, he also pressed to ensure equitable learning for the country’s K to 12 learners.

Gatchalian, chair of the Senate committee on basic education, cited the results of a survey conducted by Pulse Asia from February 22 to March 3, where 53% of the parents surveyed nationwide identified difficulty in answering modules as the most common educational problem encountered in distance learning amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The problem with modules is more common among respondents in Mindanao (74%) compared to those in the National Capital Region (32%), the rest of Luzon (43%), and Visayas (62%), the survey showed.

While 23% of respondents nationwide reported they do not understand what the teacher is teaching, this problem is also more common among respondents from Mindanao (33%) compared to the National Capital Region (17%), the rest of Luzon (24%), and Visayas (10%).

A 2017 report by the World Bank, the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA), and the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP) pointed out that 36% of the population in Mindanao are living below the poverty line, compared to 13.1% in Luzon and 28% in Visayas.

While Gatchalian cited the importance of steps such as ensuring the quality of learning materials, the safe reopening of schools, and bridging the digital divide in recovery efforts, he also emphasized the role of qualified teachers in supporting disadvantaged and underperforming students.

Insights generated from the results of the 2018 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) pointed out the importance of sending high quality teachers to schools with a high concentration of low-performing and disadvantaged students.

Gatchalian earlier filed Senate Bill No. 1887 or the Teacher Education Council Act, which aims to reform teacher education and training in the country.

The proposed measure seeks to strengthen the collaboration among the Department of Education (DepEd), the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), and the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) to improve the quality of teacher education. 

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