MANILA — A former official of the Department of Education (DepEd) on Sunday urged President Rodrigo Duterte to delay the opening of classes scheduled on Aug. 24, saying schools were unprepared to implement new modes of teaching.
Parents-Teachers Alliance chairman Emilio "Jun" Abelita, who previously served the DepEd as assistant secretary, asked if Duterte could put off the start of the school year for another 2 or 3 months to give schools more time to prepare for distance learning.
"What is 2 or 3 months in the waiting rather than go through a process na hindi natin sigurado (that we are not sure of)?" Abelita said in a media forum.
Teachers still lack materials for the coming school year and are still unaware about how distance learning will be implemented, said Abelita.
"They don't even know what to do. Wala pa silang materyales (There's still no materials). Even the methodology, hindi pa clear cut sa kanila (it's still not clear cut to them)," he said.
Education Undersecretary Nepomuceno Malaluan said the opening of classes will still push through as scheduled.
Although, Secretary Leonor Briones may give an update to Duterte and recommend a postponement of the date any time this week, Malaluan said.
Around 22.9 million learners in basic education have registered for the coming school year, DepEd data showed Friday afternoon.
The figure is 82 percent of the total number of students in the previous school year, exceeding the department's target enrollment rate of 80 percent for the upcoming school year.
Enrollment though in private schools remained dismal, with only 1.5 million enrolled learners so far, compared to 4.3 million last year, according to DepEd data.
In-person classes have been prohibited due to the ongoing threat of COVID-19, which has sickened 126,885 in the country.
The DepEd plans to deliver lessons to students at home through printed and digital modules, online classes, television, and radio.
The department has given schools the latitude to choose which learning delivery mode to implement, depending on which best suits their students.
Under a new law, the president is allowed to adjust the opening of classes during a state of emergency or calamity upon consultation with the education secretary.
-- Report from Michael Delizo and Apples Jalandoni, ABS-CBN News