La Trinidad, Benguet, September 24, 2020 – The Department of Education (DepEd) – Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) is all set and ready to open its doors to around 400K public school learners ahead of the opening of classes next month.

During the Readiness Shout-out or Regional Kick-Off for the New School Year held on September 23, DepEd-CAR officials showcased their ongoing projects and initiatives to ensure that learning opportunities are available for all Cordilleran learners.

As of date, there are already 400,099 learners enrolled in both public and private schools with 356,907 of the total enrolment coming from government schools, 96.78 percent compared to last year’s public school enrolment.

Benguet Province incurred the highest number of enrollees with a total of 86,230 based on the total enrolment data from Schools Division Offices and the Policy, Planning, and Research Division of DepEd CAR. The province is followed by Baguio City with 75,346 and Abra with 57,888.

Ifugao province has the fourth highest enrollment with 48,108 followed by Tabuk City with 38,549 and Mt. Province with 37,179. Apayao province has 33,319 learners and Kalinga province has the least number of enrollees with 23,480.

DepEd-CAR Regional Director May B. Eclar said that the readiness of public schools in the region is due to the concerted efforts of education stakeholders in supporting as well as bringing across DepEd’s advocacies on learning continuity to all sectors.

“Our initiatives from crafting our Learning Continuity Operational Plan, training of teachers and school heads, conduct of mental health and psychosocial activities, to preparations of materials and delivery of learning packets would have gone in vain without the support of our stakeholders from all sectors of society — the ‘binnadang’ or ‘bayanihan’ spirit is very much active in this region,” RD Eclar said.

Highlighting some initiatives during her Readiness of Basic Education in CAR Address, Director Eclar cited DepEd CAR’s partnerships with the Philippine National Police Regional Office – Cordillera (PROCOR) in the delivery of instructional packets from the school to the homes and facilitation of learning for families especially in far-flung areas

DepEd-CAR also got the services of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology for the learning of Persons Deprived of Liberty; the Armed Forces of the Philippines 503rd Infantry in the delivery of learning modules; and the Bureau of Fire Protection in the delivery of instructional packets and disinfecting of schools and offices.

“Our partnership initiative also went global with the coming in of Tata Consultancy Services, an Indian multinational information technology services and consulting company with their goIT program for grades 9 and 10 learners which is currently being piloted in the Cordillera Regional Science High School and will involve more schools offering Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics strand until April 2021,” Eclar added.

The Regional Office also recently launched its DamiKnow which is a YouTube channel that serves as an access point and repository of locally-developed and quality-assured learning resources in an audio and video formats for online and offline learning as well as the DepEd CAR Online Help Desk for engagement with stakeholders relative issues and queries.

A project to advocate health protocols in schools and offices through various means and media dubbed Project Safe Working and Learning Spaces or “Handang Paaralan, Ligtas na Kinabukasan” was likewise set in motion and tasks health personnel, Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM) coordinators and information officers to continuously advocate and monitor adherence to policies to mitigate COVID-19.

“All these efforts and more are linked with our division offices and at their level, concrete efforts and actions are being undertaken or operationalized,” she said.

Meanwhile, the schools division offices, through their superintendents, gave updates on modular learning and blended learning, TV/Radio-based instruction, psychosocial support and mental health awareness preparation, health and safety protocol adherence and partnerships with their local government units.

Simultaneous division kick-off will be held on October 2 and will also be livestreamed on social media to allow provincial or division offices to showcase more of their packaged initiatives and projects at their level.

On the other hand, DepEd Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones lauded DepEd-CAR and again emphasized the importance of learning continuity despite the pandemic in her video message.

“We open a historic year, a victorious year because in spite of all the criticisms, the screams, the curses, and the shouts, 24 million learners still want to go to school, 50 million parents want their children to go to school, and around 900K teachers want to stay and continue teaching learners as well as hundreds and thousands of staff of DepEd have pushed themselves to the limit during the past few months to come out with appropriate responses and solutions to the challenges of the pandemic,” Briones emphasized. – Georaloy I. Palao-ay [CAR-JC-JVM]