If a student sold explicit photos to take part in blended learning, how should DepEd respond?

How many Filipino students have turned to dangerous acts just to continue their education?

Photo courtesy of Ava Sol on Unsplash

Recent years saw the rise of alter-kink social media accounts and content subscription service OnlyFans. It’s one thing to make money off selling your provocative photos because you enjoy it and a whole ‘nother thing to do it because you’re a student who can’t afford a device you need for this incoming school year’s shift to blended learning.

The National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP) shared a GMA article titled “How far are you willing to go to buy a laptop for an online class?” and captioned it with this excerpt from the story: “Out of desperation, ‘Jay’ decided to sell intimate photos and videos of himself using an “alter” Twitter account.”

NUSP president Raoul Manuel criticized the Department of Education and the Commission on Higher Education for pushing through with the shift despite acknowledging that Filipino students have unequal and asymmetrical access to information communication technology. His tweet reads, “Ito ang epekto ng bulok na sistema ng edukasyon natin. Dagdagan pa ng pagiging detached sa reality ng @deped at @PhCHED. Wag niyo na kasi ipilit ang flexible/blended/distance learning as the new norm! Mag-mass test at gawan ng paraan ang ligtas na pagbabalik sa physical classes!”

The shared article detailed the story of an 18-year-old high school graduate who is trying to raise funds for a laptop but unable to find work opportunities. His family was not able to receive enough financial aid. Jay (not his real name) was also featured in a “Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho” (KMJS) episode on July 12. 

When Jay found out about how some Twitter users sold explicit images and videos of themselves, he decided to try it so he can save up for his academic needs. 

“Akala ko nung una madali lang siya kasi kakausap ka lang tapos simpleng transaction lang, gagawin mo lang ’yung gusto nila. Pero iba ang kalaban pag konsensiya mo ’yung kalaban po, parang ang hirap pa rin ituloy,” he admits. 

In a month, he would earn P800 to P1,000. What he would often ask for is mobile phone load. “Kung sa inyo po maliit na halaga lang po ’yun, pero sa akin po sobrang laking tulong na po kasi niya,” he said. He uses it to register for mobile data promos so he can process his enrollment and check emails. However, he started asking for cash so he can save for a laptop.

Jay lives with his grandmother and they haven’t been able to rely on her pension because she has just started her contributions. He shares, “Parang feel ko nalulunod ako, feel ko mag-isa lang ako. Dapat meron namang pamilyang nagtatrabaho para sa akin kahit ipakita lang na protektado ako, na may care talaga sila sa akin.”

The KMJS team helped him get in touch with a psychologist and found someone who donated a laptop to him. Although Jay has promised not to resort to selling intimate photos again, it’s evident that his case is not an isolated one. How many Filipino students have turned to dangerous acts just to continue their education? How many have decided not to enroll this year instead?

Manuel wrote in a tweet, “Physical classes remain to be the best option if we do not want families to spend thousands of pesos for low-quality online classes or distance education.” If you’re wondering why and how can this be made possible, don’t miss NUSP’s nationwide online consultation on July 14 about education in the midst of a pandemic.