By Merlina Hernando-Malipot
The Department of Education (DepEd) is expected to present to the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) its recommendation and proposal in May on the opening of classes for the coming school year (SY) 2020-2021.
Education Secretary Leonor Briones, in an earlier interview, said that no final decision on school opening has been made as DepEd has yet to present its recommendation on school opening to the IATF. “We will present to the IATF our recommendation in May, once the learning continuity plan has been completed, and the IATF will make the final decision on school opening by then,” she explained.
Learning Continuity Plan
As a response to the disruptions in education resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, DepEd has been working on a Learning Continuity Plan (LCP) for the students that will be affected by expected delay in the opening of classes this coming school year.
DepEd Undersecretary and Spokesperson Atty. Nepomuceno Malaluan, in a recent virtual press conference, explained that concerned units of DepEd, along with education experts and other stakeholders, have been tasked to develop the LCP.
“We will submit to the Secretary an initial draft,” Malaluan said. “Most of the components will already be there by the first week of May because I think this is something that the Secretary also intends to present to the IATF.”
Malaluan noted that coordination in the management of COVID-19 is very crucial at the moment. “All sectors are presenting alignments of their own programs to the IATF,” he said. “Education is a very big sector especially if you consider the scope of people that can be managed in terms of COVID-19.”
DepEd, Malaluan stressed, plays a big role in the management of COVID-19 because it “can make a difference” with respect to 27 million learners, one million teachers and personnel as well as their families, and the parents of the learners. “DepEd is a very big sector from a human numbers, which is very important in COVID-19,” he added.
Malaluan explained that DepEd has been preparing for the completion of the LCP “because government now is compelled to take a rapid adjustments to the situation and that’s why we are tapping all available resources including technical expertise, not just within DepEd but also our partners.”
DepEd has partnered with various groups that have expertise on flexible learning options or multi-modal platform for learning instructions which are being eyed if face-to-face interaction will remain limited due to the threat of COVID-19. “We can scale up their experiences on implementing these platforms and we can also tap them for teacher training and that’s why we are confident that by the first week of May we will be able to present to the Secretary [Briones] more or less a very comprehensive learning continuity plan,” he added.
The LCP, Malaluan explained, will cover data analytics–particularly on the possible multi-modal platform for learning instructions through broadcast medium such as television or radio, as well as online. “The data that we need, especially the equity issue to address them, will be put in the data analytics component,” he explained.
Another component of the LCP is the conduct of learning modalities – especially in terms of aligning it with the curriculum as well as delivery of instruction, among others. “We’re also considering learning resources because these will change–the most important factor is assessment and recognition,” he added.
Malaluan said that the multi-modal approaches to learning will also require teacher upscaling and re-skilling. “Some of them may not be used to these learning methods so we have included this in the learning continuity plan as well,” he explained. The LCP also outlines the operational plan to cover enrollment procedures, among others. “The need to communicate will be very important, thus, the operational plan should have a very strong communication plan and strategy,” he explained.
DepEd also stressed the importance of aligning the LCP with the longer term and more medium term agenda for quality basic education under the framework of its “Sulong Edukalidad” campaign. “We need to bridge the LCP in the time of COVID with the longer term Sulong Edukalidad,” he added.
Overall, Malaluan said that there are five sub-groups that provide inputs to the bureaus of DepEd. “We are consolidating them into one integrated learning continuity plan,” he explained.
He added that the LCP is very crucial because it will determine future operational plans to be implemented as well as the budget requirements needed. “We learned the need for the DepEd itself to be very ready for any contingency of any COVID-19 incident because whatever contingencies we have to take into consideration need budget allocation so this is also covered by the learning continuity plan that we are preparing,” he ended.