“We welcome with utmost optimism our 27.7 million learners from all over the country,” DepEd Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones enthused, referring to the projected 27,757,546 Kindergarten to Grade 12 learners who will troop to public and private schools, including local and state universities and colleges in the opening of classes.
As part of its efforts to ensure a smooth school opening, DepEd set in motion its flagship programs and projects to ensure that the learners will be accommodated in schools with a child-friendly, gender-sensitive, safe, and motivating environment.
Brigada Eskwela or the National Schools Maintenance Week, which ran from May 28 to June 2, 2018 with the theme, “Pagkakaisa para sa Handa, Ligtas, at Matatag na Paaralan Tungo sa Magandang Kinabukasan,” mobilized the communities and various sectors of the society to prepare the schools’ physical facilities, and ensure the safety and preparedness of learners and personnel during emergencies.
As of 8:00 AM of May 31, partial data reflected that a total of P1,121,408,164.27 worth of resources were already generated, and 1,205,388 volunteers rendered man-hours from 12 regions of the country, for which the Department is grateful.
“The outpouring of love and support from our partners and stakeholders – parents, teachers, community members, local government units, national government agencies, civil society groups, non-government organizations, private individuals and corporations, and everyone who believes in the power of education – has been overwhelming,” Briones shared with enthusiasm.
Meanwhile, DepEd’s Oplan Balik Eskwela attended to the needs, problems, and concerns of the enrollees, their parents, and other stakeholders in view of the imminent opening of classes. Out of the 2,219 issues and concerns raised from May 21 to 31, 2018, 1,820 (81%) were resolved immediately by the Public Assistance Command Center (PACC) stationed at the Bulwagan ng Karunungan until June 8, 2018. The remaining concerns were already referred to the field offices and concerned agencies for prompt resolution.
An Inter-Agency Task Force, which consists of the Department of Health (DOH), Department of Energy (DOE), Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA), Philippine National Police (PNP), Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS), Department of National Defense (DND), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), and Manila Electric Company (MERALCO), was also convened.
The Task Force will attend to the learners’ and other stakeholders’ needs including electrical and road safety, adequate power and water supply, access to health care, justified pricing of commodities, protection and security from criminal elements, and assistance in crisis situations.
School readiness assessment
DepEd also conducted a nationwide inventory and assessment of the readiness of public schools in terms of six basic education inputs or variables: teachers, classrooms, seats, toilets, and availability of water and electricity.
The said assessment allowed DepEd to prioritize interventions for schools that need support in achieving the ideal ratios of 1:40 for teachers and classrooms; 1:50 for toilets, and 1:1 for seats.
Education must continue
With the rallying cry that “Education must continue” despite adversities and regardless of the circumstances, DepEd is keen to welcome all enrollees on June 4, especially the displaced learners of Marawi City.
“Our role is to see to it that our learners, our children, have a feeling of normalcy, that in spite of bombs, in spite of screams and in spite of bloodletting, education must go on, education must continue, and our learners should not be deprived of that opportunity. This is exactly what we did,” Briones mentioned, referring to the Brigada Eskwela sa Marawi which concluded on May 23, a year after the months-long siege devastated the City.
DepEd is positive that June 4 will be its landmark accomplishment for 2018, as it will serve as a testament to how, with the help of partners and stakeholders, the Department has stood strong amid challenges including, but not limited to super typhoons and volcanic eruption, political and socio-economic threats, and armed conflict.
“These adversities did not, and will never deter us from pursuing our mission to deliver quality, accessible, relevant, and liberating basic education to all Filipino learners wherever they are, and regardless of the circumstances. As I have said time and again, we should always guarantee that whatever happens, education must continue,” the Education chief concluded.