As educational institutions seek to address the learning losses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, concerns have arisen regarding the impact on teacher well-being. The Department of Education (DepEd), in a bid to support students’ learning recovery, has planned a national learning camp during the academic break. However, teacher groups argue that this initiative may deprive educators of much-needed rest, exacerbating their already strenuous workload.
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The Learning Camp Initiative
DepEd’s proposed learning camp aims to provide enrichment, intervention activities, and remediation support to learners in Grades 7 to 12. The program is not mandatory but raises concerns among teachers and teacher organizations.
Teacher Well-being at Stake: The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) emphasizes that teachers are not machines and need adequate time for rest and recuperation. The ACT highlights the absence of sick leave or vacation benefits during the 10-month academic year, coupled with increasingly shortened school breaks in recent years. The Teachers’ Dignity Coalition (TDC) asserts that teachers are entitled to the two-month school break and calls for a more considerate approach.
Balancing Learning Recovery and Teacher Welfare:
DepEd’s Undersecretary for Curriculum and Teaching, Gina Gonong, has assured teachers that they will receive ample rest before the learning camp begins. Service credits will also be granted. However, discussions regarding overload pay are still ongoing, leaving some concerns unresolved.
A Shift in School Opening: Separately, Ilocos Sur Rep. Ronald Singson advocates for returning the school opening to June instead of the current April to May schedule. Singson cites extreme heat during the dry season and students being unable to enjoy the break due to the rainy season as reasons for the proposed change. House Bill 8508 has been filed to address this matter.
Intervention Programs for Underperforming Students: The State of Philippine Education Report by the Philippine Business for Education (PBEd) highlights the need for intervention programs to support underperforming students. The report addresses the issue of “mass promotion,” where students are automatically passed to the next grade level regardless of their competencies. Senator Sherwin Gatchalian emphasizes the importance of assessing and aiding students to overcome pandemic-induced learning losses.
While the learning camp during the academic break initiative aims to address learning gaps caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, concerns surrounding teacher well-being must not be overlooked. Striking a balance between learning recovery efforts and ensuring teachers have adequate rest and support is crucial. By prioritizing the welfare of educators, we can create a more sustainable and effective education system that benefits both students and teachers alike.