Recognizing the challenges of regional offices and schools division offices in areas under the Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ), the Department of Education (DepEd) assured they will be allowed to make certain adjustments when classes start on August 24.
Education Secretary Leonor Briones said that the DepEd Central Office recognizes the challenges of schools under the MECQ areas. Given this, they will be given considerations should there be a delay and other issues in terms of their timeline of preparations.
Metro Manila and other nearby provinces were placed under MECQ from August 4-18.
Due to restrictions during the quarantine, many school officials and teachers raised concerns that they may not be able to complete some school opening requirements – particularly the reproduction of printed Self-Learning Materials (SLMs) to be used for modular learning – among others.
During a virtual Senate hearing on basic education on Wednesday, DepEd Undersecretary Nepomuceno Malaluan presented the status of school readiness less than two weeks before the school opening. He presented the readiness components for school opening and noted that DepEd is “working 24/7” to ensure that the requirements are met before classes formally start in the basic education level in public schools.
There are nine (9) readiness components, Malaluan said, including enrollment, curriculum, learning delivery modalities, learning resources, assessment, teacher training, resource mobilization, health standards, and regional contextualization.
As of August 13, DepEd national enrollment data showed there are 23.21 million students enrolled for the upcoming school year or 83.52% of SY 2019-2020 enrollment at 27.7 million. Of this number, 21.57 million students enrolled in public schools and 1.59 million in private schools.
Malaluan explained that there was also a 60% reduction in the curriculum. This school year, DepEd will streamline the curriculum to 5, 689 Most Essential Learning Competencies (MELCs) from 14, 171 learning competencies in the full K to 12 program.
Without face-to-face classes, Malaluan said that DepEd will implement learning distance modalities through modular (printed or offline digital), online and television and radio. When it comes to learning resources, he explained that students and teachers may use existing textbooks mapped to MELCs, self-learning modules (SLMs), activity sheets, SLM-based videos or radio-based instruction and MELCs-mapped or aligned supplemental materials.
Malaluan noted that to date, 82 or the 214 schools division offices have “greater than 50 % complete” SLMs. Meanwhile, 132 out of the 214 SDOs have “less than 50 % complete” SLMs. The priority, he said, is to “have at least first two weeks available on August 24” while in the succeeding weeks will be on a “rolling basis.” The first week of classes, he added, will “be devoted to orientations and psychosocial interventions.”
From August 11-21, DepEd also started test airing of its TV and radio-based lessons for blended learning. Malaluan added that DepEd is also focusing on teacher training and “opportunities will continue throughout the school year.”
The agency also realigned its budget and updated its resource mobilization strategy to ensure that the needs of schools, teachers, and students under the Basic Education -Learning Continuity Plan (BE-LCP) will be addressed.
During the launch of the “Handang Isip, Handa Bukas” national readiness kick-off on August 10, Briones reiterated the readiness of the DepEd and the schools – in different settings – to open the school year by implementing various alternative learning delivery modalities.
The program featured 10 schools from various regions with diverse circumstances, which conducted distance learning and exhibited how each school maximized its resources with the help of their respective local government units and partner organizations.
Despite the glitches in Monday’s school readiness program launch, Briones maintained that do not reflect the overall readiness of DepEd to start classes.
“It doesn’t mean that because there were glitches, therefore, blended education will fail,” she said.
“I beg to humbly disagree because there are other ways and we’ve repeatedly said this, if one strategy or modality does not work, there is a menu of other options,” she ended.