For Education Secretary Leonor Briones, the opening of School Year (SY) 2021-2022 is a celebration of “victory and success” despite the challenges brought by the pandemic.
“Last year, I declared victory with the opening of classes on October 5, 2020. Today, September 13, 2021, DepEd celebrates with great joy its success in opening classes for the second year in the time of COVID,” said Briones during the virtual National School Opening Day Program on Monday, Sept. 13.
“We opened classes last year. We successfully ended them. Now we are opening another school year. Isn’t that success worthy of celebration?” Briones added. “Today, we are opening the School Year 2021-2022 as we celebrate last year’s victory,” she added.
DepEd formally opened the SY 2021-2022 for public schools under a distance or blended learning scheme since face-to-face classes remain prohibited by the government.
“The challenges we are facing now are even tougher than those we battled last year,” Briones said. Nonetheless, she noted that over 24 million million learners “have returned to schools and we expect even more to enlist for late enrollment.”
Briones noted that when she declared victory over COVID-19 last year, “some people got angry” noting that how can one declare victory in the time of COVID-19. “For them, it was the worst time to feel victorious,” she said.
Despite this, Briones said that DepEd crafted the Basic Education - Learning Continuity Plan (BE-LCP) and reduced the Most Essential Learning Competencies (MELCs) from over 15,000 to 5,000.
“Nonetheless, we opened the school year in the midst of debates over printed versus digital learning material,” Briones said. “The call to continue education triumphed over calls for lockdowns and closures,” she added.
Briones also noted the amount of effort and hard work the entire DepEd “exerted to keep schools cannot be quantified” and because of this, DepEd “ended the School Year 2020-2021 in victory.” Citing DepEd’s data, Briones said that the tentative graduation figures indicated that 98.13 percent or 2,055,499 of 2,115,040 Grade 6 learners made it.
Grade 10 learners, Briones said, also “did very well” with 96.9 percent or 1,881,817 out of 1,940,578 completed their studies. Grade 11 learners also made it at 97.2 percent or 1,489,164 of l,531,718. “Ahh, the sweet smell of success!” she exclaimed.
New school year opening For this year’s school opening, Briones said that DepEd has been preparing for the start of classes even for months already.
“There is much success to celebrate and build on,” Briones said.
What DepEd did, Briones said, was considered “impossible” in five months. “We translated printed material into TV, radio, cell phone, tablet; and yes, utilized walkie-talkies for remote schools,” she explained.
Briones said that DepEd also prepared learning facilities and distributed gadgets with the help of local government units (LGUs), national agencies like the Bureau of Customs of the Department of Finance, multilateral and bilateral partners, as well as business and civil society organizations.
Despite the challenges, Briones said that even in the time of the Delta variant, “there is love and there is education” - thus, the DepEd will continue to celebrate victory and success this school opening.