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Gatchalian wants free TV airtime for DepEd’s distance education

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Valenzuela City Rep. Wes Gatchalian is pushing for all television networks to provide the Department of Education (DepEd) free air time for distance learning.

TV classes targeting specific school levels at specific times would ensure that students without internet access or from far-flung areas can still study under the distance-learning scheme, he said in a statement.

Gatchalian filed House Bill 6964 or the Basic Education Distance Learning Program to “provide continuity of learning and education to all students” while physical classes or traditional face-to-face classroom lectures are not possible due to the coronavirus.

The bill seeks to allocate at least three hours of air time to DepEd every Monday to Saturday, from 8:00 am 12:00 noon in all TV stations, including government-owned networks, “until such time that the Philippine education system can return to its traditional classroom setting.”

“Since the traditional face-to-face classroom set up in schools might still not be safe in light of the virus, DepEd is planning to implement alternative learning modalities, such as technology-mediated learning in delivering lessons to students,” the lawmaker said.

“While DepEd is leaning towards an alternative learning system with the internet as the primary delivery medium, this Representation believes that an alternative learning system delivered through TV broadcast would be more inclusive and accessible to the masses,” he added.

According to Gatchalian, a Philippine Survey and Research Center (PSRC) study in 2019 showed that 87 percent of households in the country have TV set.

“The same study showed that while 82% of homes in the country have internet access, it was largely through mobile access, which is not conducive for home-based learning,” he said.

Under Gatchalian’s proposed law, DepEd will prepare distance learning TV classes based on its existing curriculum for each grade level under the K-12 Program. TV classes for the Distance Learning System will be composed 3 hours video lessons and must cover at least two subjects per day.

The lessons will be aired from Monday to Saturday, 8:00am to 12:00 noon, and must be interactive and include activity materials or homework to reinforce the lessons which will be administered by the teacher in charge.