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Bong Go pushes for more support for public school teachers amid pandemic

Christopher “Bong” Go
Bong Go pushes for more support for public school teachers amid challenges caused by the pandemic on the education sector

SENATOR Christopher “Bong” Go appealed to the national government to extend more support for public school teachers given the challenges they are facing due to the health crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, Go cited the struggles that teachers are experiencing in the blended learning approach being implemented while face-to-face classes are still not allowed.

The Department of Education earlier sought approval for the release of its Early Language Literacy and Numeracy (ELLN) Program Support Fund that aims to capacitate K-to-3 teachers and instructional leaders on pedagogical knowledge and skills on literacy and numeracy. The program also aims to achieve improved reading and numeracy skills of K-to-3 learners, strengthen teachers’ capability to teach, and assess reading and numeracy skills.

“Patuloy natin dapat sinusuportahan ang mga guro, lalong-lalo na ngayong pandemya. Hindi madali ang panahon ngayon. Naging mas challenging pa ang pag-aaral dahil nahaharap tayo sa maraming pagsubok, lalo na sa blended learning na ipinatutupad sa mga paaralan,” Go expressed.

The proposed ELLN Fund amounts to P20 million and will support the Region-wide Training on the Adoption of the Blended Delivery Model for Teacher Professional Development.

A portion of the fund will be allocated for the procurement of learning materials for teachers’ training. It will also be used to subsidize communication expenses for prepaid internet load to enable teachers, school heads, and supervisors to sustain online training and learning action cells.

For Senator Go, granting this budget is an important step towards supporting teachers, especially after President Rodrigo Duterte cancelled this January’s dry run of face-to-face classes due to the recent discovery of new, faster-spreading strains of the coronavirus.

“Mahirap na kalaban ang virus. May mga banta ng bagong strains. Dapat maging maingat tayo at matuto sa nangyari noong nakaraang taon. We have to guard up, especially for our kids who go to school. Ngunit, hindi pwedeng matigil ang pag-aaral ng ating mga kabataan,” Go added.

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The ELLN Support Fund for the school year 2020 was originally intended for the face-to-face training of supervisors and school heads across the country. Because of the pandemic, DepEd converted the initial training design to blended learning.

The senator previously expressed his support for the enhancement of the digital education platform. He called on schools and other educational institutions to adhere to the President’s directive to postpone face-to-face classes. He stressed that until a safe and effective vaccine for COVID-19 becomes available in the country, classes must be held through blended learning to ensure the health and safety of students, teachers, and their communities.

Go emphasized that education must continue to remain a priority despite the transition to the blended learning approach. He vowed to support measures that strengthen the education sector as well as protect the rights and welfare of students and teachers.

Earlier, he filed Senate Bill No. 396 in 2019 to expand the purposes and application of the Special Education Fund which he proposed to be used for the operation and maintenance of public schools, payment of salaries, allowances and other benefits of teaching and non-teaching personnel, competency trainings for teaching personnel, operation of Alternative Learning System (ALS), including payment of salaries, allowances and other benefits of ALS facilitators; educational research; teaching aids, and other instructional materials, among others.

“Hangad natin ay hindi lang mas maraming estudyanteng nag-aaral. Target din natin na mas maraming nakakapagsitapos ng pag-aaral,” Go said in his previous statements.

“Patuloy tayong maghahanap ng paraan na mabigyan ng suporta ang ating mga guro upang hindi matigil ang pag-aaral ng ating mga kabataang Pilipino. Kung gusto nating umunlad, dapat bigyan natin nang malaking importansya ang kapakanan ng mga guro para maisaayos ang pag-aaral ng ating mga kabataan, lalo na sa literacy at numeracy,” he added.

Meanwhile, Go also assured teachers that they will be prioritized when a safe and effective vaccine against COVID-19 is approved. Aside from teachers, the government also committed to prioritize other frontliners, such as uniformed personnel and medical workers, aside from poor and vulnerable sectors.