December 30, 2020 – With the year 2020 coming to a close, Education Secretary Leonor Magtolis-Briones highlighted the commitment of the Department of Education (DepEd) to address recurring and new challenges in 2021.

“Many new things, [many] challenges to face but we’ll persevere as we have always persevered as the Department of Education, as the primary institution for the molding and development of our learners, for the future of our country,” Secretary Briones said in her Holiday message during the Virtual Thanksgiving and General Assembly last December 22.

Sec. Briones also emphasized Christmas is about the spirit of giving, peace, goodwill, and hope as she reflected on the challenges DepEd faced in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and other calamities.

“Kailangan may message of hope. Isa rin sa message ng Christmas is hope. The hope noon ang hinihintay ang Messiah, yung Savior, the one who will save us from all our troubles. Christmas tells us that life is more than what we are facing right now. Life is more than COVID-19, life is more than all the threats that we are facing at present all the difficulties because there is always hope,” she noted.

With the drastic changes in education brought by the pandemic, Briones is hopeful to further transform Philippine education in response to the changing world.

“Education is not going to be the same as education during my time or during your time it’s going to change and the change has already started. We already recognize the signals, we see the increased role of technology and science,” she said.

“We see the need to encourage not only our teachers but our learners to not only specialize and memorize; but to know many things, to know how to analyze, to know how to be objective, to know how to come to break a problem apart and come up with a solution. Ito ang klase ng edukasyon na gusto natin,” Briones added.

The virtual event was also attended by DepEd officials and personnel led by Undersecretary for Finance Annalyn Sevilla, Undersecretary for Planning Service and Bureau of Human Resources and Organizational Development Jesus Mateo, and Undersecretary for Legal Affairs Atty. Josephine Maribojoc.

“Ang kapaskuhang ito ay makasaysayan – ang buong taon na ito ay makasaysayan. Bilang isang bansa, ahensya at kahit isang tao, marami tayong pinagdaanang pagsubok. Mga pagsubok na nalagpasan at pipilitin nating lagpasan. Pinagdadasal ko na tayong lahat ay mabigyan ng kapayapaan sa gitna ng paghihirap, mabigyan koneksyon at pagmamahal kahit malayo tayo sa ating mga pamilya at kaibigan, at kamangha-manghang mga sulyap ng kagalakan na possible lamang dahil mayroon tayong makapangyarihan, mapagmahal at mapagpatawad na Panginoong Hesukristo,” Usec. Sevilla added.

Usec. Mateo also highlighted that despite 2020 being a very difficult, trying, and even challenging year, the agency still grew and developed better as an organization.

“Kaya, anuman ang di inaasahan, or hirap or lungkot o nakakalito na Pasko 2020, hindi nito binabago ang saya at kapayapaan na dulot ng pagsilang ng Diyos sa mundo sa Pasko,” Usec. Maribojoc said.

Meanwhile, the Department also sincerely expressed its gratitude to organizations and individuals that supported the mission to deliver education amidst the pandemic through a “Heal The World 2020” video. Dubbed as DepEd #Pasasalamat, the music video featured Sec. Briones, Pilipinas Got Talent champion Marcelito Pomoy, teachers, learners, and other stakeholders singing together.

“Indeed, it will take an entire nation to raise our children and in that endeavor, we thank all of you parents, teachers, personnel, partners, stakeholders, and all of you for believing and keeping faith with us amidst these challenges,” Briones said.

“This is for the future of our country and our children. Your continued support serves as an inspiration for us to further fulfill our duty and overcome all of these varied challenges. Together, let us heal and let us triumph as one,” she ended.