Students, Teachers Oppose GMA’s Cyber Ed

Saying that expensive technology is not the solution to the decline in the quality of education in the country, teacher and student groups called for the scrapping of the DepEd’s Cyber Education Project.

BY VICTOR GREGOR LIMON
Philippine Collegian
Posted by Bulatlat
Vol. VII, No. 28, August 19-25, 2007

Saying that expensive technology is not the solution to the decline in the quality of education in the country, teacher and student groups called for the scrapping of the Department of Education (DepEd)’s Cyber Education Project (CEP).

The CEP, a satellite-based distance learning program which aims to deliver lectures and resource materials to public elementary and high schools in far-flung areas, was conceived by the Arroyo administration “to improve low achievement levels of students and to catch up with the demands of the global competition,” according to the Phillipine Information Agency.

Under the CEP, satellite technology will be used to link 37,794 public schools to a nationwide network that provides 12 video channels. In three years, DepEd envisions that 90 pecent of the public schools nationwide will receive live broadcast of lectures and presentations from master teachers who are superior in the areas they are teaching.

Legality of the CEP

Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) chair Antonio Tinio questioned the legality of the CEP contract, saying DepEd did not provide details of the program. The P26.48-billion ($568.24 million based on an exchange rate of $1:P46.60 as of Aug. 17) project will be funded through a loan from China, along with the controversial National Broadband Network and four other agreements, as part of the Information Technology cooperation of the two countries.

“The public has the right to know all the details pertaining to the contract. Who are the foreign and local interests pushing for this white elephant?” Tinio questioned.

Tinio also said that DepEd is keen on implementing the CEP next year on a national level, but has not even formulated concrete plans for the content of lectures to be broadcast.

“A more pressing concern is if DepEd is equipped to handle such ambitious projects. DepEd doesn’t have the capacity to institute projects in such magnitude…Wala pang studies tungkol sa effectivity ng Cyber Ed,” Alvin Peters, secretary-general of the National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP) added.

Through the CEP, DepEd plans to provide multimedia classrooms equipped with four television sets, two desktop computers and a printer to selected schools to facilitate broadcasting of lectures produced in DepEd’s central office.

Each grade and year level will have its own channel, with 20-minute broadcast lectures and 40-minute classroom lectures to cover all subjects in the curriculum.

Not the solution

Peters said that the CEP does not address the roots of the problems in basic education.

Peters added that declining enrolment and low achievement levels are rooted in worsening poverty and chronic underspending on education. The severe shortage of teachers and teaching material which crippled the public education is caused by the decline in the allocation for education system, he added.

Independent think-tank Ibon Foundation studies show that the shortage of teachers reached 49,699 in 2005 from 37,932 in 2001. Over the same period, shortage of classrooms grew from 8,443 in 2001 to 57,930 in 2005, lack of chairs increased from 2.11 million to 3.48 million. The lack of textbooks, meanwhile, reached 34.7 million in 2004.

If the government is sincere in its plans of improving education in the Philippines, the budget should instead be used to fund trainings for teachers, procure textbooks and chairs, and build school infrastractures, according to Peters.

Hindi cyber education ang sagot sa problema kundi mas mataas na budget sa edukasyon. Mag-focus sa
long term genuine national development
” (The answer to the problem is not cyber education but more budget for education. Focus on long-term national development), Peters said.

Tinio added that the CEP has little or no benefits for students because if it simply aims to broadcast lectures via satellite, distributing taped lectures is cheaper and will also serve the purpose. Philippine Collegian / Posted by (Bulatlat.com)

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