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ACT calls on DepEd to add classroom facilities, reduce class sizes

The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) over the weekend called on the Department of Education (DepEd) to provide additional facilities for classrooms and to reduce the size of classes, given the recent heat spikes recorded in the country.

According to ACT Secretary General Raymond Basilio, the DepEd should cater to the primary needs in schools as student learning was being affected by the higher temperatures.

“Andiyan ‘yung mga pangangailangan para sa sapat na mga electric fan. Isang pinaka-basic ‘yan na kailangan nating mga teachers dahil napakaraming mga schools ‘yung walang mga electric fans,” he said in a report by Katrina Son on GMA News’ “24 Oras Weekend” on Sunday.

“Pangalawa ay bawasan ‘yung class size na hina-handle ng ating mga teachers kasi habang napakalaki noong class size ay talagang mahihirapan po ‘yung ating mga teachers at estudyante sa loob ng kanilang silid-aralan,” he added.

(There is a need for sufficient electric fans. This is one of the most basic needs of teachers because there are a lot of schools without electric fans.

Secondly, reduce the class size being handled by our teachers because while class sizes remain large, this would cause difficulties for teachers and students inside the classroom.)

A survey conducted by ACT showed that a huge majority of teachers in the country reported that students are finding it difficult to concentrate on their studies due to "dry season heat.”

ACT has also suggested the adoption of 185 class days annually so that the school break could gradually revert to April and May after five years.

Online learning

DepEd has already said that schools may suspend face-to-face classes and shift to modular distance learning due to extreme heat and power outages.

“Iba-iba po kasi ang situation ng ating mga paaralan. Kaya school heads po ang magde-determine. Ayaw rin po nating makaapekto sa kalusugan ng ating mga learners ang napakainit na panahon, kaya po pinaalalahan natin ang mga school heads na maaari silang mag-switch agad sa ADMs,” DepEd spokesperson Michael Poa told reporters on Saturday.

The DepEd has also formed a group to study proposals to revert back to the previous calendar days which would give students an academic break during the hotter months of the year.

“May mga factors tayong pinag-aaralan dahil noon po, nung April, May ang ating bakasyon, marami ring calls na i-move ‘yung ating bakasyon dahil pagdating din ng June, July ay pasukan ay nagkakaroon naman ng mga bagyo,” Poa said in the 24 Oras report.

(We are studying factors because when the vacation was April, May, there were also a lot of calls to move the vacation because when it comes to June, July and there were classes, there were a lot of storms.)

“Ang mga school heads naman po natin ay may discretion upang magsuspinde ng in-person classes and switch immediately sa tinatawag nating alternative delivery modes sa mga oras na sa tingin nila ay hindi na po conducive ‘yung learning environment,” he added.

(School heads have the discretion to suspend in-person classes and switch immediately to what we call alternative delivery modes in times when they deem that the environment would not be conducive to learning.)

The department is also looking at the possibility of adding fans to classrooms, but this would need funds.

Call for more teachers

The ACT earlier called for the hiring of 30,000 new teachers annually until 2028, which it said would resolve the teacher shortage and decrease class sizes to 35 students.

Education Secretary and Vice President Sara Duterte, however, said this would be “unrealistic and impossible,” but the ACT in response said this is in line with what the administrations of former President Benigno Aquino III and Vice President Duterte’s father, former President Rodrigo Duterte, strived to do.

The group’s latest remarks come as the country continued to record high temperatures, with state weather bureau PAGASA expecting even hotter days ahead.

Last month, more than 100 students were sent to the hospital during a fire drill at their school in Cabuyao, Laguna due to the heat and dehydration. Other heat exhaustion cases have been reported among other schools as well.

The province of Occidental Mindoro has reported that since the start of the dry season at least 145 students have been hospitalized due to the heat. — Jon Viktor Cabuenas/DVM/BM, GMA Integrated News