PASIG CITY, June 6, 2018 – Department of Education (DepEd) Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones spearheaded the opening of School Year (SY) 2018-2019 by personally visiting schools and ensuring that learners are accommodated in a conducive, nurturing, safe, and motivating environment.

The Education chief first led the flag raising ceremony of DepEd Central Office at the Bulwagan ng Karunungan in Pasig City on June 4, where she expressed her gratitude to all employees for their contribution in the Department’s accomplishments.

Peaceful, successful opening 
The Secretary of Education assured the public that the opening of classes has been generally peaceful and successful, primarily because of the preparations conducted by the Department – from the Central, down to the Regional and Division Offices, and the schools.

She also told DepEd employees that the Department is all geared up to face another school year: “Ire-remind ko kayong lahat na kung one percent ay hindi ready, hindi ibig sabihin, iyong buong educational system ay hindi ready, dahil ready tayo.

“Ginagawa ng ating pamahalaan, ginagawa ng ating mga parentsteachers, mga grupo, civil society organizations, simbahan, ang lahat para maging maayos, maging exciting ang pag-aaral ninyo,” Briones addressed the learners of Quezon City High School, which she visited in the morning of June 4.

Efficiency, positivity 
The Department is also positive that it has been handling challenges in an efficient manner, even in the National Capital Region (NCR) which is dealing with continuous migration and overpopulation.

This is especially true with the case of Bagong Diwa Elementary School (BDES) in Manila, wherein its 51-year-old building with 19 classrooms constructed by the local government, was recommended for condemnation based on the structural analysis conducted by the Japan International Cooperation Agency. As a result, the approximately 1,057 Kindergarten to Grade 6 learners from the said school are being accommodated in the nearby Jacinto Zamora Elementary School (JZES) since February 2018.

Given its spacious land area and facilities, JZES was able to lend its three–story, 20-classroom building to BDES learners while still maintaining the ideal class size.

“At saka iyong identities ng dalawang schools are also respected kasi dalawang principals, dalawang sets of students, and so on. At hindi naman masyadong na-i-inconvenience ang mga bata dahil magkalapit lamang. So example ito on how we respond to challenges and issues, and still promote efficiency,” Briones further opined during her media interview at JZES, which she visited on June 5.

JZES is said to be only some 500 meters away from BDES, and while they now share the same compound, the two schools also have their separate entrance/exit.

“This is really a question of efficiency and maximum utilization of resources,” Briones emphasized.

Safety first 
The move is also part of the Department’s mandate to ensure the safety and well-being of learners.

“Itong sa dalawang schools na ito, alam naman natin na iyong isa ay already declared na talagang i-de-demolish kasi it’s in a danger zone, kasi we cannot gamble with the children’s safety,” Briones mentioned.

Undersecretary for Administration Alain Del B. Pascua also mentioned that the construction of the new four–story, 24-classroom building at BDES will take about 225 days. Demolition work will commence once the permit is issued, since the land is a property of the local government.

“The target is that the construction shall be finished before the start of SY 2019-2020,” Pascua shared.

From usual problems to unusual challenges 
Briones lauded the efforts of DepEd-NCR, led by OIC Regional Director Wilfredo A. Cabral, the Schools Division of Manila, led by Superintendent Jenilyn Rose B. Corpuz, and the principals of JZES and BDES, Agustin P. Baldicañas and Jocelyn T. Carlos, in ensuring that the learners are comfortable while the ideal classroom to learner ratio is being maintained.

“We have two ways of looking at it. One way is to look at it as a crisis, as an example of bad management on the part of the Department of Education, but you can also look at it as a way of meeting immediately challenges about space, about increased enrollment, about issues like climate change and all these things which are beyond the control of DepEd itself. It’s how we respond to it,” the Secretary pointed out.

She further called on everyone to help the Department in allaying misconceptions about the education sector, and emphasized that the so-called “usual problems are now unusual challenges.”