With the opening of classes being moved from August 24 to October 5, the Department of Education (DepEd) continues to strengthen its rigorous preparations for SY 2020-2021. DepEd is using the weeks leading up to October 5 to fill in the remaining gaps for this year’s school opening and to address the challenges of adjusting to education’s new normal.
The printing of self-learning modules (SLMs) has been the utmost priority of the Department, especially with modular learning being the preferred learning modality across different regions. Most regions such as Region I, Region IV-A, and NCR are already at the advanced stage of preparing these modules, with 80-100% of SLMs already printed. Other regions are also making good progress, with only four out of over 200 School Division Offices (SDOs) having a completion rate below 25%.
DepEd also has the National Educators Academy of the Philippines (NEAP) transformation, which is set to provide interventions for schools throughout the school year. According to Education Undersecretary Nepomuceno Malaluan, schools were asked to conduct self-readiness assessments before the start of the school year. Those who have rated themselves below 50% will receive necessary assistance, such as professional development training and physical and psychosocial support. These training programs have already begun, and are set to continue for the rest of SY 2020-2021.
The Department’s dry-run simulations have also been ongoing for the past several months. These dry-runs determine areas of improvement and best practices when it comes to implementing the learning delivery modalities. Approximately 500 schools from various regions with diverse circumstances have already conducted these simulations, and the results have been promising.
Sucao Elementary School, which is located in the mountain province of Abra, conducted a modular distance learning simulation in cooperation with the Baay-Licuan local government unit. The school gave learners transistor radios and flash drives containing pre-recorded lessons. The school also showcased how these flash drives can also be plugged into the radios, making it easy for learners to access their modules.
Schools under the alternative learning system (ALS) also participated in the dry-runs. Tagum city’s TAGUMpay Palengskwelahan, a learning center that offers ALS programs for elementary and secondary learners, showcased how they implemented modular distance learning and online learning by using 20 computers, e-modules, and radio-based instruction. The modules were sent to student homes and retrieved the week after through DepEd’s Knowledge on Wheels mobile. The school is located within the Tagum City Public Market.
Indigenous groups in Calay IP School exhibited resourcefulness and innovation by inventing the Learning Resource on a WiFi Hub for Expanded e-learning in Sarangani (LR on WHEeLS). Using intra-net technology, access point antennas were set up in communities where learners can connect their gadgets. All self-learning modules and video lessons were made accessible on LR on WHEeLS. Students sent their teachers messages in-app if they had any clarifications, and were prohibited from accessing social media pages or online games to ensure that the technology could only be used for learning.
These are only some of DepEd’s efforts that showcase how continuous preparation and collaboration between education stakeholders can create a promising future for education’s new normal. The Department assures the academic community that they will identify and address the needs of each school before the opening of classes.
“We trust that this is the final adjustment of the school opening,” said DepEd Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones. “We will use this time to make the necessary adjustments, look after our school and education stakeholders, and ensure that all preparations have been made for the successful opening of classes for School Year 2020-2021.”