PASIG CITY, June 4, 2019 – The Department of Education (DepEd) on Monday welcomed its approximately 27.2 million Kindergarten to Grade 12 learners back to school and reported a generally orderly and peaceful first day of School Year (SY) 2019-2020 nationwide, with few reported issues and concerns.
From the previous year’s 27,018,509, the projected number of enrollees in the formal education alone for this school year increased to 27,216,398. Meanwhile, an additional 735,000 are expected to enroll in the Alternative Learning System (ALS)—the Department’s second chance education program for out-of-school youth and adults.
“Given our continuously increasing population and the challenges that we have to hurdle, we are likewise increasing our efforts to deliver quality, accessible, relevant, and liberating basic education for the Filipino learners,” DepEd Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones shared.
All systems go
The Education chief assured the public that the Department is ready for the opening of classes during the press conference on day one of the new school year.
To ensure a smooth school opening, DepEd set in motion its flagship programs, projects, and activities including the early registration which enlisted approximately five million new entrants from Kindergarten and Grades 1, 7, and 11 as early as February.
The week-long Brigada Eskwela, meanwhile, mobilized the communities and various sectors of the society who contributed their time, effort, and resources to prepare the schools’ physical facilities and provide the learners with a safe and nurturing environment.
Oplan Balik Eskwela (OBE) command centers and hotlines nationwide—from the Central to the Regional and Schools Division Offices—were activated last May 27 and will remain open until June 7 to attend to school opening queries, problems, and concerns of stakeholders.
Second home for learners
The Education chief visited public schools in the National Capital Region (NCR) and welcomed new and old learners of Signal Village National High School (NHS) in Taguig City and Comembo Elementary School (ES) in Makati City.
Briones reminded school officials, teachers, and personnel of the Department’s mandate to provide the learners with a child-friendly, gender-sensitive, safe, and motivating environment—one that is not only complete with basic education resources, but is also free from all forms of abuse, violence, exploitation, discrimination, and bullying.
“We want to make our schools a true second home for our learners,” the Secretary, who personally read a story to enthusiastic back-to-school Grade 2 learners in Comembo ES,
noted. She also observed a Grade 4 class in the same school.
Meanwhile, during her visit to Signal Village NHS, Briones dropped in on classes to greet Grade 8 and 12 learners on their first day of class. When asked about their expectation for the new school year, a Grade 8 student said she is excited about lessons that would allow her to be aware of the current situation of the country. Briones advised the students to “think out of the box” and to discern facts and data: “You can grow your own conclusions. Huwag kayong magpapa-shape ng opinions ninyo, ng pag-analyze ninyo.”
In another class, Briones asked the Grade 12 learners on their plan about graduation. One student said he looks forward to the inauguration of a residential and commercial area in Taguig that will open many job opportunities for a senior high school (SHS) graduates like him. Most of the students, however, expressed their intention to proceed to college after graduation.
The Education chief likewise conversed with the teachers during their kumustahan, wherein she delivered updates on the Department’s initiatives to improve their welfare. Teachers, on the other hand, presented some of their concerns including the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) loans and benefits. Briones reminded them stay true to their commitment to public service and “be proud that you are teachers.”
Undersecretaries Annalyn Sevilla and Jesus Mateo also discussed the various programs for their personal and professional development including their career progression through merit-based promotion.
Briones was also joined by Undersecretary Nepomuceno Malaluan, Assistant Secretary G.H. Ambat, and DepEd NCR Director Wilfredo Cabral when she visited the schools.
“As we open another school year, I enjoin everyone who believes in the cause of education to work together and join us in responding to the increasing development requirements of our country, and in creating a better world for the Filipino learners whom we are all sworn to serve,” Briones concluded.