Allow schools that opened to continue classes, DepEd urged

Sen. Maria Lourdes Nancy S. Binay  asked the Department of Education (DepEd)  Saturday to issue clear guidelines and direction on how private schools that have already started classes would proceed and to allow those that are likewise ready to have an option to either start on Aug. 24  or later.

Senator Nancy Binay (Senate of the Philippines / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

"So as not to interrupt classes in private schools that have already started, it is better to allow them to continue, at kung ready naman ang (and if they are ready) school na magbukas (to open), DepEd can give them the flexibility to open on or before October," Binay said.

Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea on Friday informed Department of Education (DepEd) Secretary Leonor Briones that the school opening on Aug. 24 was deferred to Oct. 5.

According to DepEd, about 1,277 private schools, including 243 in Metro Manila, have already started classes.

"While we welcome this move from DepEd, we also have to stress that DepEd should use the deferral as an opportunity to iron out any expected challenges in public schools, particulary access to new learning opportunities, before the opening come Oct. 5," Binay said.

Binay is chairwoman of the Senate science and technology committee.

Aside from Internet connectivity and access to television broadcast, it was revealed during the hearing of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts, and Culture last week that DepEd is having trouble in the delivery of new learning modalities and printing of Self Learning Modules (SLMs) to be used for this school year.

Binay said not having SLMs available ahead of time for teachers is just adding more pressure and burden to teachers.

‘’Ngayong na-move na ang start ng school year, dapat masiguro nila na pulido na ang sistema't setup, pati na ang mga materyales for both teachers and students,’’ she stressed. (Now that DepEd had reset the opening of school year, they should fine-tune the set-up of the system, even the materials for both teachers and students)

"If this six-week breather can be wisely programmed, then we can expect na konti na lang ang mga gusot by Oct. 5, at kahit paano, meron na modules at teaching materials, at pati parents and students handa na rin," Binay explained. (…then we can expect a few wrinkles by Oct. 5 and learning modules and teaching materials and even parents and students are ready by then)

It is suggested that prior to opening of classes in public schools, DepEd should conduct a nationwide simulation in all grade school levels to test the new setup, and at the same time address whatever problems that are encountered during the dry run.

"A nationwide simulation is recommended para alam ng estudyante, kasama ba ang magulang kung ano ang bagong sistema, at para makapag-adjust din sila. The simulation should also include schools in rural areas and remote barangays that have multi-grade setup," Binay added. (A nationwide simulation is recommended so that students would know, if parents are included and what new system so that they all could adjust) 

Binay stated that there should be no more excuses for DepEd not to be ready for start of the adjusted school year since they could adequately prepare for outside-classroom learning following the decision to move the opening of classes from Aug. 24 to Oct. 5.

DepEd said it was planning to have at least the first two weeks of SLMs available on Aug. 24 while printing the materials for the succeeding weeks on a rolling basis.