The idea of teachers pulling money out of their own pockets to buy devices and services for teaching is not new in the Philippines. But how come this has never been resolved despite the Digital Rise Program which is in line with the President’s directive to move towards online and digital learning. This is the Department of Education’s (DepEd) response towards the direction of providing all schools with the appropriate IT equipment, including laptops for all public school teachers.

A recent study of the National Research Council of the Philippines (NRCP) bared proof of the reality of how DepEd teachers are using their personal money to acquire devices such as laptop computer, mobile phone, printer, and similar gadgets, or services like internet connection needed to facilitate teaching and learning.

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Dr. Celina P. Sarmiento, project leader and NRCP Division of Governmental, Educational and International Policies, presents the result of their study on Emergency Remote Teaching Experiences brought by COVID-19 on July 21, 2021 via online.

Dr. Celina P. Sarmiento of the Philippine Normal University and member of NRCP Division of Governmental, Educational and International Policies, looked into the 28,859 DepEd teachers’ (Kinder to Grade 6 – 18,883; Grade 7 – 10 (Junior High School) – 7,702; Grade 11 – 12 (Senior High School) – 2,324) experiences brought by COVID-19 pandemic. The results of the study were presented on July 21, 2021 during the NRCP’s 9th Kapakanan ng Tao sa Oras ng Pandemya (KTOP)-COVID Series titled, Emergency Remote Teaching Experiences brought by COVID-19. Below figure shows how teachers spend own money out of their salaries on school related expenses.

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Figure 1. Devices/services teachers acquired using personal money.

The study also showed the current emergency remote teaching modalities as follows:

  1. Distance Learning (Online and Offline Digital Modules, TV+Radio+Printed Modules, Printed Modules)
  2. Blended Learning (TV+Radio+Digital & Printed Modules)
  3. Home Schooling

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Figure 2. Remote teaching modality experienced by teachers.

As shown in above figure, majority of the remote teaching modality experienced by teachers is distance learning through printed modules. Synchronous and asynchronous online meeting/activities teaching modalities come next. It was also found that 43.55% of the teachers are reporting to school thrice a week.

According to Sarmiento, majority of the teachers are from the rural areas where common internet connection used is mobile data. It is known that mobile data are capped per day that is why many of the teachers have difficulties in delivering remote lessons. With this, internet access, connectivity, and speed were among the challenges of the teachers compared to those who have fiber connection.

As for the level of confidence in a remote environment, majority of the teachers are hopeful, even if they did not do it before, and they are willing to learn (62.89%). The respondents also shared that they are somewhat comfortable (33.98) with the remote teaching. Many (40.29%) of them had attended one to two trainings.

Meanwhile, laptop and mobile phone/smart phone top among the devices used for remote teaching, as shown in Figure 3.

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Figure 3. Devices teachers use for remote teaching.

The Google Meet, Facebook, Zoom, Google Classroom, and MS Teams are among the applications teachers had learned to use for remote teaching while the widely known Facebook Messenger is the top channel used to communicate with colleagues and students. Also, the teachers are providing feedback to students once a week. The study show more than 90% of the teachers said that the students need remediation because students learn lesser these days. It was found out that majority of the students are having problems too with the remote learning.

The Council, as a science advisory council to the government, suggests that DepEd assists the teachers. According to the Council’s Executive Director Marieta Banez Sumagaysay, the study has given a picture of the teachers' plight in implementing emergency teaching options.

"The results of the study convey to the DepEd the promotion of work-life balance among teachers, as well as project systems and strategies that will aid in bridging to the 'new normal'," Sumagaysay said.

Aside from these, the following were recommended for the benefit of the teachers and learners:

  • Additional budget for the mobile internet allowance
  • Privileges in mobile companies
  • Guidelines and protocols on using Facebook and Messenger as these are not really safe to use to share students’ grades, crucial information, among others
  • Empower, increase teachers’ knowledge, and equip them with technologies they need
  • Support from their students
  • Make sure that schools are future-ready
  • Re-imagine student as an independent learner, re-imagine the teacher education by providing their needs

This webinar was participated by almost 467 (177 – male, 290 – female) participants including NRCP members, DOST agencies, LGUs, state colleges and universities, academe, media, city health offices, Congress and DepEd.