Sat. Sep 18th, 2021

MANILA – Department of Education Secretary Leonor Briones on Thursday said the agency shares the view of President Rodrigo Duterte in ensuring the health and safety of learners as classes begin in August amid the continuing threats of a pandemic.

At the Laging Handa briefing, Briones said there is no conflict or disagreement between the department and Duterte regarding the opening of physical or face-to-face classes.

“Walang pagkakaiba ang pananaw ng presidente at programa ng DepEd hinggil sa physical, face-to-face classes. Ayaw ni presidente, ayaw rin ng DepEd na ma-endanger ang mga bata (There’s no difference between the president’s perspective and DepEd’s program on physical, face-to-face classes. The president doesn’t want to endanger the learners; it is the same with the DepEd),” Briones said.

Duterte earlier said he would not allow learners to go back to school and hold face-to-face classes until a vaccine for the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) is available.

The president’s statement drew mixed reactions from teachers, students and parents and triggered debates on whether to stop classes or which mode of learning to adopt.

School year 2020-2021 is scheduled to open on August 24.

Briones said the department is providing ways to ensure continuity of learning despite the absence of physical or face-to-face classes, even as scientific experts say a vaccine would be available in a year or 10 months at the earliest.

Citing the reopening of classes in other countries, Briones said the learning process should continue even during times of calamities.

“Sa buong mundo, opening na ng schools sa Europe, Asia at sa Amerika. Hindi naman sa nakikiuso tayo pero ayaw natin maantala o ma-interrupt ang learning process ng mga bata dahil nagawa na natin ito na kahit anong sakuna, calamities, patuloy pa rin ang edukasyon (Around the globe, classes have opened in Europe, Asia, and America. It’s not that we’re following the trend but we [the DepEd] don’t want the learning process to be interrupted, we’ve done this even in the midst of calamities, learners continue with their studies),” she added.

Toward the end of school year 2019-2020, the DepEd has adopted blended, distance or flexible learning systems in providing learners and teachers lessons amid the pandemic.

“May mga alternatibo para patuloy ang edukasyon ng mga bata. Nandiyan ang DepEd Commons with more than 7 million subscribers who are teachers and learners and parents na sinusundan nila ang mga curriculum natin na bago (There are alternative ways to continue with the learner’s education. There’s the DepEd Commons with more than 7 million subscribers who are teachers and learners and parents who follow our new curriculum),” she said.

Briones bared that the department is in talks with the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) for the use of its radio and television facilities for the airing of curriculum content.

“Nandiyan din ang telebisyon, as a matter of fact, kami ay nakikipag-usap kay Secretary Martin kung puwede magamit ang radio and television facilities ng ating PCOO lalo na sa (There’s television, as a matter of fact, we’re asking Secretary Martin if we can use the radio and television facilities of our PCOO especially in) TV13,” Briones said.

She cited a law which mandates television networks to designate 15 percent of their viewing time for children, which the department can convert into curriculum content.

Some parents have expressed apprehension over the opening of classes in August fearing for their children’s health and safety at a time of a pandemic.

Briones said the decision whether to enroll learners in the coming school year would ultimately depend on parents.

“Kami sumusunod sa mandato ng presidente, sumusunod kami sa batas na hanggang last day ng August ang enrolment. At the end of the day, desisyon iyan ng mga parents at rerespetuhin namin kung ano ang desisyon ng parents kung i-enroll o hindi nila i-enroll ang kanilang mga anak (The DepEd follows the president’s mandate, we observe the law stating the enrolment is until the last day of August. At the end of the day, it’s the parents’ decision whether they would enroll or not enroll their children),” she added. (PNA)

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