Internet access remains a major challenge among school teachers

MANILA – A recent study by a member of the National Research Council of the Philippines (NRCP) bared that

Internet access remains a major problem and challenge among school teachers across the country amidst the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

This has been confirmed in a recent study by NRCP member Celina Sarmiento who looked into the experiences of 28,859 Department of Education (DepEd) teachers in Kinder to Grade 6, Junior and Senior High School.

Data showed that 62.66% of the respondents have been  compelled to physically report to school either thrice or twice a week because of the problem.

The study found out that in all teaching levels, 97% of the teachers surveyed experienced self-learning modules as a remote teaching modality. On the other hand, interactive online activities (synchronous or asynchronous) were only experienced by less than 30% of the respondents.

“Internet connectivity is still a major challenge in many areas of the Philippines, and thus, non-online modalities became the prominent form of education delivery in the ‘new normal,’” Sarmiento said.

She noted that as most of the respondents are from rural areas, where the common internet connection used is mobile data (some 71% on average), and which is more dominant compared to the more stable fiber connection.

Mobile data with capped data per day, internet access, and internet speed have been among the challenges in the shift to the new school environment induced by the pandemic.

The study, Sarmiento said, also discovered how some teachers have been compelled to use their personal money to acquire devices or services needed to facilitate teaching.

Facebook Messenger emerged as the dominant channel for communication among teachers and students, it was found out. “Seemingly, the popular social media can be accessed for free in most networks, and as a result, it has become the most convenient way to communicate distantly,” she said.

The NRCP, as a science advisory council of the government, suggests that DepEd assists the teachers.

“The results of the study convey to the DepEd the promotion of work-life balance among teachers, as well as project systems and strategies that will aid in bridging to the ‘new normal’,” said NRCP executive director, Marieta Sumagaysay. Adding that the study “has given a picture of the teachers’ plight in implementing emergency teaching options.”

Sarmiento said the NRCP recommends that teachers should be provided with more budget for internet connectivity; and that communication companies and device merchants should offer special discounts and payment arrangements for teachers.

“Empower teachers, increase their knowledge, and equip them with the technologies they need,” she added with stress.