Various industries in the Philippines are already on their slow but steady path to recovery and that includes the education sector. Despite the compromises and major changes made in the educational system to navigate through the now normal, the Department of Education (DepEd) has successfully opened classes for SY 2020-2021.
“DepEd recognizes the challenges of the school year ahead, but if we opted for an academic freeze, we would have lost many months of the childrens’ learning,” said DepEd Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones. “The opening of the school year has generally been very successful, and we will continue to face any challenge that lies ahead with great resolve to continue education in the country.”
For the first few weeks of classes, the Department has been focusing on the proper implementation of the alternative learning delivery modalities and providing the necessary psychosocial support for the academic community.
Learning in the new normal
Following the DepEd’s successful implementation of the different learning modalities across the country, Regional Offices (ROs) are working hard to continuously provide students with learning materials.
With the vision of making education accessible to every student in the country, DepEd reports that 690,578,576 Self Learning Modules (SLM) have already been printed. Distribution of the said learning materials has also been successful, with 465,225,636 SLMs being distributed to students nationwide for the first quarter of the school year.
Learning materials for Online Distance Learning students have already been prepared in time for the first quarter of the academic year, with 3,841,474 digitized SLMs, e-books, online video lessons, and the like ready for rollout.
The DepEd also shared that 7,740 Radio-based instruction (RBI) learning materials are ready for roll out across all regions in the country. These materials include teaching scripts and learning episodes, which will help educate and engage with students in far-flung areas. Currently, DepEd has partnerships with 309 radio stations all over the Philippines.
Meantime, preparations for Television-based learning have also been successful. The Department reports that 9,207 Television-based instruction (TBI) learning materials like video lessons and learning episodes have been prepared for students in all 17 regions in the country. A total of 259 television channels are partaking in TBI, making education more accessible and easier to consume this school year.
Recently, DepEd also announced the DepEd Error Watch initiative. The goal of this initiative is to receive and collate reports of errors found in different learning materials so that the DepEd can forward these to the appropriate offices for validation and correction. The initiative allows the Department to be more open to public feedback in order to further improve the learning experience of every student in the country.
Parents and students can use various platforms such as email (firstname.lastname@example.org), Facebook messenger (@depederrorwatch), and text message (0961-680-5334) to report any discrepancies, and are also encouraged to use the hashtag #depederrorwatch when submitting reports.
Training has also been conducted nationwide to help equip teachers and parents for the changes that are bound to happen this school year. The Department has trained 804,272 teachers, and they have also reached out to 14,944,593 parents in all 13 regions. In total, 45,321 schools have helped the Department in conducting seminars to educate both teachers and parents.
Putting emphasis on mental health
The mental health of the academic community also continues to be one of DepEd’s top priorities for this school year. Prior to the opening of classes, DepEd trained teachers to provide support to students who may be struggling to cope with education’ new normal.
The Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Services (MHPSS) program gives learners the necessary support they needed during the first week of remote learning. Likewise, DepEd’s stakeholders also enjoy wellness checks to also help them cope with working at such a peculiar time.
DepEd also issued the Parents’ Handbook for the New Normal in Basic Education to serve as a guide for SY 2020-2021. The handbook helps parents further understand the alternative learning modalities and provides information on where parents can seek help should they encounter difficulties in understanding the learning modules. Practical tips for parents of learners with disabilities and positive parenting and discipline tips when facilitating home learning are also included in the handbook. Parents can secure a copy of the handbook by downloading it online.
“The millions of learners who are doing their best to learn despite the pandemic are truly inspiring and encouraging,” said Secretary Briones. “The Department remains steadfast in its commitment to provide all learners with the quality education they deserve, and we will continue to work hand in hand with our stakeholders to continue education for Filipinos across the country amid these trying times.”