Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte on Wednesday insisted that the call of ACT Teachers party-list for hiring 30,000 new teachers and constructing 50,000 new classrooms yearly is impossible.
Duterte also accused the party-list group of turning a blind eye on gunfights near schools involving communist rebels.
The Vice President said the DepEd is not blind to the problems besetting the education system and that the hiring of teachers and administrative staff, as well as the construction of new classrooms and school buildings, are among the solutions identified and being pursued now.
“While these are pursued along with the implementation of other essential reforms, DepEd should not only be limited to dispensing old-fashioned solutions but must also innovate. May I reiterate that ACT Teachers’ suggestions were both unrealistic and impossible — presented to shame the government and deceive the public into believing that the hiring of teachers and increasing the education budget were their ideas,” Duterte said.
“The Department will not surrender or fall for the mad ruse of a party-list group that has mastered the art of duplicity,” she added.
The Education chief then argued that ACT Teachers party-list should condemn the New People’s Army’s (NPA) “terrorism in Masbate” that resulted in the suspension of classes in six towns of the province, affecting more than 55,000 learners and 2,815 personnel.
“We should only take ACT Teachers seriously if it publicly condemns NPA atrocities in Masbate and all other NPA terroristic activities that hampered the learning of children across the country,” Duterte said.
“The real victims here are the learners, and the Department of Education is pouring in all our efforts to solve the problem,” she added.
In response, House Deputy Minority Leader France Castro of ACT Teachers party-list countered that their demand for hiring 30,000 new teachers and constructing 50,000 new classrooms yearly are highly reasonable and urgent, and something that the two immediate administrations of former President Benigno Aquino III and Duterte’s father, former President Rodrigo Duterte, strived to do.
“Our call for hiring 30,000 new teachers and constructing 50,000 new classrooms yearly, until 2028, to eradicate teacher and classroom shortages and improve education quality are perfectly legitimate and logical demands. In fact, the past two administrations were able to get near these targets as the Aquino administration hired an average of 29,166 teachers per year and even the administration of the current vice-president and concurrent Department of Education (DepEd) secretary's father was able to hire 25,000 teachers per year," Castro said.
“Malinaw sa kasaysayan na kaya itong magawa, ibukas lang sana ang isipan at 'wag puro red tagging ang inaatupag," she added.
(It is clear that history shows these actions can be done. She should be open minded and do-away with tagging critics as communists.)
She further said it is mind boggling that the Education secretary herself deemed it as "unrealistic and impossible.”
“Blended learning won’t work in the long run because it is just DepEd’s way of passing the teaching responsibility to the parents. Learning gap is worsening because blended learning is not fit for the country,” Castro, who was a teacher before being elected to Congress, pointed out.
She also said the Masbate incidents involving communists are condemnable as she called for a probe.
"As for the incidents in Masbate , they are indeed condemnable and an independent probe should be conducted by forensic experts and the Commission on Human Rights to see the real perpetrators of the gun firing near the schools," Castro said.
"These incidents also highlight the need for the resumption of the peace negotiations between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) to address the root causes of the armed conflict," she added.—AOL, GMA Integrated News