NUMEROUS teachers resorted to starting a campaign online that asks for donations of bond papers and ink to be used for the printing of modules.
These modules are necessary for schools that chose distance learning as their new learning modality after face-to-face set-up is still prohibited by the Department of Education (DepEd) due to the ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
One of them is teacher Sheryll P. Fernandez of Catmonan Elementary School, a school serving Indigenous People learners in Barangay Macambol, Mati City.
The campaign, which she posted last week, was dubbed as "Ink and Bond Paper mo, Module Ko."
"This is not just my campaign, I think this is a unified campaign of teachers, especially those assigned in small and remote schools," she shared in a phone interview on Thursday, August 13.
She underscored that this is not an official campaign of DepEd, but an initiative by teachers who fear their students will be left with no printed learning materials when the school opening starts.
"I won't resort to this campaign if we have enough financial support to print the modules, with the huge paper and ink requirement needed to sustain modular learning, our school's Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE) budget and even personal money can't cover that," she added.
MOOE is the allocated funds for public schools that can be spent on educational institution's activities and necessities.
Scarcity of bond paper supply is also one of the challenges faced by schools these days, as demand for paper shoots up due to reproduction of modules by all schools in the country.
Catmonan ES School head John Expe D. Satinitigan, in a separate interview, said they have yet to claim their school's MOOE for the month of June, as delay in release was noted due to late liquidation submission from their end for the previous months. March to May is when the onset of the pandemic happened.
"School's MOOE is usually prepared and approved annually. Our monthly allowance depends on our expenses every month. Due to the pandemic, we were told to amend the budget allocation to focus more our expenses to the present needs under the new normal," he said.
For June, the school has some P40,000 MOOE, as Satinitigan usually puts the bulk of their budget every end of the quarter. This is where they will source their expenses for school supplies, load allowances, printing, photocopying, and mobility expenses, among others.
"For now, we just use our own money for all the current expenses, we will just reimburse it once the budget is available," he said.
He added that the MOOE budget for July and August will only be at P7,000 and P8,000, respectively.
Cost of printing modules
Fernandez explained that 25 is the average number of pages for one module for one subject in a week.
"You multiply that to eight subjects for approximately 30 students per class, that would mean we will need at least 60,000 sheets of bond papers in 10 weeks or in one quarter," she said.
A ream of bond paper, which is sold at P250 each, consists of 500 sheets. Catmonan ES has a total of 143 enrollees as of August 13.
Satinitigan said what their teachers are currently printing is the 18-page Psychosocial Intervention Program materials, which will be used by the students for the first two weeks of classes. The proper subject modules will be distributed starting September 7.
"Some teachers in other schools are opting to booklets, they fold bond papers into two to lessen expenses and maximize the paper. For our school, we are still evaluating if it's feasible," he said.
DepEd: There is budget
Responding to groups criticizing the education department for allegedly failing to fund reproduction of modules for schools using distance learning, DepEd-Davao spokesperson Jenielito Atillo said the agency has allocated a total of P499,011,000 for Davao Region for this sole purpose.
"It is actually downloaded to all our schools division offices. To all our school heads and teachers fearing that their MOOE can't cover these additional expenses, you have nothing to worry about because we have enough funds. Pwede pa gani dili ninyo mahilabtan inyong MOOE for the printing of modules (It's even possible that your MOOE will not be deducted by the reproduction of modules)," he said in One Davao virtual presser of the Philippine Information Agency-Davao on Wednesday, August 12.
This special fund will be shared by 11 schools divisions in the region. Mati City, where Catmonan ES is located, has a budget of P26,012,237.
Atillo, however, recognized the efforts made by teachers for initiating campaigns to promote education.
"We are proud of their initiatives, it only means our teachers are not just waiting for the government services and interventions to do their job, they are always looking for ways to help," he said.
Atillo also said that it is actually the responsibility of schools division offices to print modules and distribute it to schools.
However, this is not what's currently happening on the ground.
"We're printing it ourselves once we get a go signal from our division to reproduce it (module). For now, we are printing the Psychosocial Intervention Program materials. The main subjects' modules have yet to be printed because not all module guides are finalized," Satinitigan said.
Upon learning that a special budget has been earmarked by DepEd for the printing of modules, teacher Fernandez and school head Satinitigan welcome this development as this will ease their burden brought by the new learning set-up for this school year.
"We hope they'll understand why we are still doing a donation campaign because we just want to secure important supplies needed to make our classes uninterrupted while the budget is still not forwarded to schools, to us," Fernandez said.