MANILA (UPDATE) — The Department of Education (DepEd) said Wednesday it was ready to start the coming school year in August, which will see a shift from traditional in-person classes to an unprecedented distance learning scheme.
Education Secretary Leonor Briones said the DepEd was ready to start classes based on simulations of distance learning conducted in several schools.
"Ang importante patuloy ang edukasyon. Bubuksan ang ating classes on August 24. Ang question ay handa ba ang DepEd? Ang DepEd ay handa na. Nakita namin 'yan sa simulation. It will work," Briones said at a forum held ahead of the President's 5th State of the Nation Address (SONA).
(What's important is for education to continue. We will open classes on August 24. The question is, is DepEd ready? DepEd is ready. We've seen in simulations. It will work.)
Briones cited a "successful" distance learning dry run in Navotas City.
Some private schools have also started to hold distance learning simulations while others have started implementing the delivery mode, she said.
Briones also reiterated that no one would be forced to study through online means.
"Hindi pinipilit ang mga bata na mag-online sila kung hindi talaga puwede ang online dahil maraming ibang paraan na matuturuan sila without necessarily going online," she said.
(No one is forcing children to go online if they can't because there are other ways to teach children without necessarily going online.)
Under distance learning, lessons will be delivered to students using online platforms, printed and digital modules, television, and radio.
In-person classes have been suspended pending the availability of a vaccine against the new coronavirus.
Some 20.2 million learners have registered in public and private schools, DepEd showed early Wednesday, which is also the last day of enrollment for public schools.
The figure was still below DepEd's target of 21.6 million enrolled learners or 80 percent of the 27 million registered students last school year.
But Briones believes more learners would take advantage of DepEd's late enrollment policy.
Public schools can accept late enrollees until the last week of September, Education Undersecretary Jesus Mateo told reporters.
Mateo also said 300,877 private school students have transferred to public schools as of Wednesday morning.
Several lawmakers and groups remain skeptical over the implementation of distance learning, raising questions on the effectivity of students' independent learning at home. Others cite unstable internet connectivity in the country, among other reasons.