Insensitive? DepEd chief hit for advice over soiled modules, distance learning woes after ‘Rolly’s’ onslaught

November 4, 2020 - 1:40 PM
Leonor Briones in a DepEd
Education Secretary Leonor Briones speaks in a video uploaded by DepEd Philippines on its Facebook page on Oct. 31, 2020. (Screenshot by Interaksyon)

Education Secretary Leonor Briones urged the schools affected by the onslaught of Super Typhoon Rolly to initiate their own means of solutions in facing the challenges brought by the tropical cyclone to distance learning.

The public official in a virtual press briefing on Tuesday said that the education department is leaving it up to its local offices and divisions to work around the issues in their areas brought by the natural disaster such as soiled modules.

“Halimbawa, nabasa ang module, siguro hindi naman susulat ang superintendent na ‘Basa ang module namin.’ Maghanap sila ng paraan. Ibilad nila, ‘yung iba pina-plantsa,” Briones said, as quoted by reports.

“Hindi na sila uutusan ng circular galing sa central office para sabihin kung ano ang gagawin,” she added.

Briones said that they are encouraging the schools to develop their own initiatives instead of traditionally waiting for orders from the central office of the Department of Education.

“Ine-encourage natin ang intiaitive ng mga schools para sila ang maghanap, sila mag-develop sila ng solusyon sa mga challenges,” she further said.

DepEd Undersecretary Diosdado San Antonio added that those extremely affected by the typhoon, such as in Bicol, would be given the chance to study from resources that were previously used by other students.

“Itong mga nasa Bicol… bibigyan sila ng pagkakataon na matuto rin gamit ‘yung mga self-learning resources na ginamit ng kamag-aral nila,” he said.

Briones also believed that the typhoon will not affect the module production of the agency since it has already produced the modules for the first quarter.

She added that they are also trying to decrease their dependency on printed modules for the second quarter due to its environmental effects.

The education chief said that an alternative being eyed for Metro Manila schools, for example, is to download the lessons so that an internet connection may no longer be required upon studying.


Meanwhile, Briones’ remarks about letting the schools plan its own initiatives on facing the challenges brought by the typhoon, particularly about the soiled modules, were met with criticisms by some Filipinos online.

“How can you be so detached (from) the reality of our teachers and students? How insensitive,” a Twitter user said in response to Briones’ comments on the modules with a woozy face emoji.

“You know what, you really need to resign. Sobrang nonsense ng mga pinagsasabi mo. It’s easy for you to say that cause wala ka sa situation,” another online user said, referring to those whose houses were directly affected by the typhoon.

“I think she used a wrong example as to how teachers can cope with the current situation. BUT, given the situation, the higher-ups should help their subordinates in coping with the challenges. Hindi ‘yung parang iniwan sila,” another Filipino pointed out.

“‘Maghanap sila ng paraan’ as if they haven’t shouldered enough burden,” a Twitter user commented in reference to some teachers who have resorted to asking for paper supply donations in printing out modules.

Briones in a Tuesday press briefing said that DepEd is already working with the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council to help the schools that have been heavily affected by the typhoon.

Wrath of ‘Rolly’

Last weekend, “Rolly” (International name: Goni), considered the world’s strongest tropical cyclone this year so far, slammed parts of Southern Luzon and displaced lots of families in Catanduanes and Albay amid an ongoing pandemic.

The tropical cyclone also affected people from Regions 2, 3, CALABARZON, MIMAROPA, Region V and the National Capital Region.

It was also the first time for a while that Metro Manila was placed under Tropical Cyclone Wind Signals No. 3 and 4 by the state weather bureau.

Based on reports, the death count of Rolly has reached 24 while at least 26 sustained injuries and five people remain missing.

Majority of the fatalities were recorded from Bicol. There were also deaths from CALABARZON and MIMAROPA.

Damages to infrastructure such as bridges and public buildings have also reached over P5 billion, according to the Department of Public Works and Highways.

Meanwhile, this was not the first time that Briones’ comments have earned the ire of some Filipinos.

Last month, she declared “victory over COVID-19” despite reports of students who are unable to enroll this school year due to financial constraints and those who continue to face challenges amid the lack of resources such as proper internet connection.