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Online classes anti-poor, unstable due to internet in the Philippines —Rep. Salceda

Online classes are anti-poor and bound to be unstable due to the “fluctuating” internet speeds in the Philippines, a lawmaker said Monday.

Interviewed on Dobol B sa News TV, Albay Representative Joey Salceda cited data showing that only 17% of Filipino students have internet access at home while only 3.74% own cellphones that can connect to the internet.

He added that only some 5% of students have internet access that is stable enough for online learning activities.

“‘Pag yan ipinilit mo, so ‘yung 5 percent lang pala ang puwedeng matuto?” Salceda said. “E papa’no ‘yung 95 percent na dahil sa kanilang estado sa buhay, dahil sila po ay mahirap, kahit nasa loob ng Metro Manila o kahit siya po ay sabihin nating may kaunting kaya pero nasa malayo, hindi reliable ang internet?”

Salceda also warned that forcing students to leave their homes to purchase mobile load or pay for WiFi for online classes will heighten their exposure to the coronavirus.

“In terms of access, alam mo, napaka-anti-poor ng online classes… Puwedeng maging optional ‘yan pero hindi po ‘yan puwede ipilit gawa nga po ng karamihan, wala naman po sila ng mga kinakailangan kagaya ng laptop, kagaya ng cellphone, katulad ng internet,” he said.

The House Ways and Means Committee chairman added that some schools are pushing through with online classes in order to collect tuition fees from students amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Nag-file ang Congress ng stimulus bill kung saan nakapaloob at P25 billion bilang pantustos sa mga estudyante na mahihirap na nasa college para ‘wag na po silang pinipilit na mag-online [classes] para lang po sa tuition,” he said.

Salceda also said that internet speeds in the country sometimes fall to as low as 3.3 mbps, way below the minimum 15 mbps recommended by mobile analytics company OpenSignal.

Beyond financial and internet connection concerns, the congressman added that the prevailing “climate of anxiety” due to the pandemic will lead to poor knowledge retention.

Salceda urged schools to end the semester and mass promote students. “There [are] life skills being learned right now. That’s the kind of life skill that you cannot even put under controlled conditions,” he said.

“Wala tayong magagawa, nasa krisis tayo, bakit niyo pa dadagdagan? Lalung-lalo na, ‘yung anxiety ng mga parents na pinipilit ngayon na magbayad ng tuition.” --KBK, GMA News