DepEd urged to move opening of classes

A LAWMAKER from the National Capital Region on Tuesday urged the Department of Education (DepEd) to pilot test the different modes of blended learning instead of pushing through with the opening of classes on August 24.

Quezon City Rep. Alfred Vargas, a member of the House committee on basic education and culture, said the DepEd should consider moving the start of classes as concerns mount that several schools nationwide are still unprepared for distance learning.

“DepEd should consider pilot testing various forms of blended learning in select schools nationwide starting August 24 while sourcing additional funds for its implementation. This way, the agency will know the technical challenges that could affect teachers and students,” said Vargas.

“Using the experiences and feedback of stakeholders in the pilot tests, DepEd can implement blended learning more effectively later this year or even in January 2021,” Vargas added.

Education Secretary Leonor Briones has rejected calls to move the opening of classes on August 24, saying further delays in the start of the school year could affect students’ interest in learning.

DepEd will be using a mix of internet-based sessions, radio and television programs and printed modules for school year 2020-2021. Echoing President Rodrigo Duterte’s stand, Briones said there will be no face to face classes until a COVID-19 vaccine is developed.

Around 22.9 million students enrolled for the new school year. Vargas said DepEd could make the most out of the challenges caused by the pandemic to education by fine tuning methods for distance learning before its nationwide implementation.

He noted that Briones could recommend moving the school calendar to the President under Republic Act 11480, which allows the Chief Executive to set a different date for the start of classes during a state of calamity or emergency.

“We recognize Secretary Briones’ desire for students to continue their education amid the pandemic. But there’s no denying that there are growing pains that come with the implementation of blended learning this school year due to its scope,” Vargas said.

With deliberations on the proposed P4.5-trillion national budget for 2021 set to start this month, Vargas, a vice chairman of the House appropriations committee, said he will ensure DepEd will have adequate funds for education in the “new normal.”