DepEd says ready for face-to-face classes, just waiting for Duterte OK

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 17 2021 02:52 PM

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The Department of Education said on Friday it was ready to test a limited return of face-to-face classes and was just waiting for President Rodrigo Duterte’s go signal. 

The agency has sought Duterte’s approval for a pilot test of in-person classes in 100 public schools and 20 private schools in areas with low COVID-19 risk. 

“Mahabang panahon na ang aming nagugol at sa aming pag-iisip, pagri-reflect, pag-aaral dito sa pilot face-to-face so handa na kami,” said Education Secretary Leonor Briones. 

(We spent a lot of time mulling over, reflecting, and studying here in the pilot face-to-face so we are ready.)

“Ang hinihintay na lamang ang go signal ng Presidente. Pero handa ang Department of Education para sa pilot,” she said in a televised public briefing. 

(We are just waiting for the go signal of the President. But the Department of Education is ready for the pilot.) 

The United Nations children's agency UNICEF has urged education authorities to reopen schools as soon as possible. 

Schools in around 17 countries remain fully closed, while those in 39 countries remain partially closed, according to a report released by UNICEF on Thursday.

Among those "almost completely closed" are schools usually attended by nearly 77 million students in the Philippines, Bangladesh, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Panama and Kuwait.

Nearly a third of this figure is accounted for by the Philippines, which is fighting one of Asia's worst coronavirus outbreaks and where a new school year started this week.

At least 27.5 learners have enrolled for the new school year, more than last year’s 26.2 million students, noted Briones.

Students may be safer at home, but the availability of computers, mobile phones and internet, and the uneven quality of education, are among challenges they continue to face.

In the Philippines, some children have been forced to climb onto roofs and go uphill just to get an internet signal. 

In June, President Rodrigo Duterte rejected a proposal to allow face-to-face classes to resume in some areas, saying: "I cannot gamble on the health of the children."

In a report released in April, the Asian Development Bank estimated school closures lasting more than a year could slash future earnings among the region's students by as much as $1.25 trillion, or equivalent to 5.4 percent of GDP in 2020.

Briones said experts recommended the return of face-to-face classes for younger learners. 

“Ang mga lower grades, ang mga bata, una, resilient sila. Pangalawa, sila ang nangangailangan ng face-to-face,” said the official. 

“Sa growing years nila, importante na i-mold na ang kanilang character, study habits, kanilang good manners and right conduct at iba pang pag-uugali na kailangang ma-implant na sa mga bata,” she added. 

(In the lower grades, children are resilient. Second, they are the ones in need of face-to-face. In their growing years, it is important to mold their character, study habits, good manners, and other habits that must be implanted in children.)
 
— With a report from Reuters