‘What's there to celebrate?’ Group slams Briones for declaring a ‘successful’ school opening

Amid “unaddressed” challenges under the distance learning set-up first implemented last school year, a group of education workers criticized Education Secretary Leonor Briones for declaring a “successful” opening of School Year (SY) 2021-2022.

Grade 2 pupil Kesha Aranez from Atienza Elementary School attends an online class while her mother Leah guides her as she tends their sari-sari store in Baseco Compound in Manila during the first day classes for school year 2021-2022.(ALI VICOY / MANILA BULLETIN)

“What's there to celebrate?” ACT said in a statement issued Monday, Sept. 13. Classes in public schools officially started under a blended learning scheme since President Duterte has yet to allow the resumption of face-to-face classes, even on a limited scale.



During the virtual National School Opening Day Program, Briones led the school opening and deemed it as a celebration of victory and success. “Today, we are opening the School Year 2021-2022 as we celebrate last year’s victory,” she added.

Briones said that DepEd “celebrates with great joy its success” in opening classes for the second year in the time of COVID-19. “We opened classes last year. We successfully ended them. Now we are opening another school year. Isn’t that success worthy of celebration?” she added.



However, this declaration of success did not sit well with ACT as it slammed another school year of school closure which makes the Philippines “one of the last in the world to re-open schools amid the pandemic.”



The group also lamented that the concerns of parents, learners and teachers - such as the lack of gadgets, ample internet support, insufficient modules and “millions of children” who are yet to enroll - are not reasons to “celebrate” the opening of a new school year.

Personnel of Taguig Integrated High School wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) while they distribute modules and other school supplies, which include Anti-COVID-19 kits, to be used by kindergarten pupils in Taguig City. (ALI VICOY / MANILA BULLETIN)

“How can we expect these to be addressed when the DepEd Secretary is already celebrating mediocrity?” ACT said as it urged Briones - and the DepEd leadership - to “stop patting yourselves on the back for doing the bare minimum of re-opening classes while failing to address major issues in education.”

For ACT, these unresolved concerns have “major consequences” to education access and quality. “We are in no mood to celebrate, as seen by various protests from different stakeholders today,” the group added.

Instead of pronouncing of a successful re-opening and celebration of victories, ACT said that Briones “raise your standards” and demand better from Duterte administration.

“What we need from you and what you are mandated to do is resolve these glaring problems in education, and represent our interests by pressing the Duterte government to sufficiently respond to the needs of the sector,” ACT added.