Unilab, INQUIRER.net, DOH, and DepEd lead public-private sector initiatives supporting teachers | Lifestyle.INQ

Unilab, INQUIRER.net, DOH, and DepEd lead public-private sector initiatives supporting teachers

It takes a village to raise a child and it takes a nation to educate one, especially under the new normal setup. Thus, private and government sectors have been working together to support both learners and teachers. AKAP Guro CONNECTed is one of such working initiatives that have brought together teachers in its fold to engage, inspire, and empower them for they are the ones who do the same to the students. 

AKAP Guro CONNECTed is a program of Unilab, Inc. through its External Affairs Division, in collaboration with several partners.  It launched its webinar series in Inquirer.net last week with representatives from the Department of Health (DOH), the Department of Education (DepEd), and the Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA). 

The main platform for its advocacy is a series of webinars about health, including the latest about COVID-19, and other initiatives that are geared toward increasing compliance of students and the teaching community to minimum health standards to avoid further spread of the virus most especially among the children and the youth. 

Ronilda Co, Director of the Department of Education (DepEd) Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, said as early as April, preparations have been done in schools all over the country. Schools have been strictly advised to comply with minimum health standards and DOH’s required health standards as well. About 900,000 teachers and 23 million students will start classes in public schools on October 5. 

“We are putting in place protection measures for employees especially since the work-from-home setup has become more demanding, with no delineation anymore between household chores and work,” said the DepEd director.

Department of Health (DoH) emphasized that everyone can be part of the solution. “We are all called to be the solution. We are not a slave to COVID-19, the solution is in our hands. We are not helpless,” said Dr. Beverly Lorraine Ho from the DoH Health Promotion & Communication Service, who talked about BIDA Solusyon, a campaign of the DOH. 

Dr. Ho cited that the Philippines’ self-reported compliance is high. “We still have challenges in terms of compliance but more and more Filipinos are doing the protocols. She said those in positions of power should not only ensure strict compliance but to make sure that materials that people need to comply with are available such as face masks, alcohol, water, soap, etc.

Pediatric experts Dr. Maria Angela Nicole S. Perreras and Dr. Maria Cristina I. Alberto emphasized the teachers’ key role in instilling health protocols to their students, who follow them as figures of authority.  

Dr. Perreras, a pediatric infectious diseases practitioner, does teleconsulting a lot and observed that it has become fairly common for whole families getting infected with Covid-19. “I guide parents on how to quarantine family members properly and when they have to go to the hospital for routine treatment or wellness vaccination, we make sure it will be safe for them,” she said.

Dr. Alberto, a community pediatrician in Cavite and founder of Hope in Me Club, cited that even when children are inside their homes, many still contract vaccine-preventable diseases, so she urges parents to still consult doctors or health centers. She also reminded teachers to keep themselves fit and healthy through proper diet and exercise.

“We cannot just passively watch cases on TV. We should keep busy boosting our health. For instance, children should exercise at least one hour a day and adults at least 30 minutes a day. We should be ready and prepare our bodies to be strong enough, because the virus is around us,” she said. 

Both doctors, who are part of the AKAP Guro CONNECTed Advisory Council, said that AKAP Guro CONNECTed webinars have been instrumental in levelling up the preparation of the teaching community since its launch last June 2020.  

The reminders and messages of the webinar’s resource speakers are tied together by the launch of a 60-second video produced by the Philippine Educational Theatre Association (PETA) featuring an original jingle composed by Noel Cabangon and Michelle Ngu entitled “Sugpuin, COVID 19”.  Copies will be sent to schools with a Teachers’ Manual that can serve as a creative material for teachers to help in inculcating the value of the minimum health standards among students. 

“As artists, we in PETA believe that arts is a potent tool to affect the consciousness and behavior of an individual. Arts is not just to express but to advocate very important messages. We use our arts to make people aware,” said Melvin Lee, Program Director of PETA. 

Lea Espallardo, Curriculum Director and Facilitator at PETA, presented the Teacher’s Guide for elementary and junior/senior high school teachers on how to cascade the message of the video effectively for students who belong to different grades and levels.

“It’s important to reiterate that compliance of everyone to the minimum health standards is a must. Ensuring the safety of everyone starts with us, not just with the doctors as they are our last line of defense.  We are the first line of defense—our habits and compliance to the protocols,” said Espallardo. 

AKAP Guro CONNECTed is presented by Unilab, Inc. and RiteMed Tamang Alaga.  It is supported by Catholic Education Association of the Philippines (CEAP), Visayan Youth Matters and Now You Know.

For further details on AKAP Guro CONNECTed and how to get a copy of the video, Sugpuin, COVID 19, send an email to [email protected]