Sara tasked to review K-12, regain lost teaching ground

President-elect Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. wants Vice President-elect Sara Duterte-Carpio to review the implementation of the K to 12 program in schools when the latter takes over the Department of Education next month.

COOL SCHOOL. Students of the Multimedia Arts School at the CIIT College of Arts and Technology in Mother Ignacia, Quezon City study with face masks on in this file photo. President-elect Ferdinand Marcos has asked Vice President-elect and incoming Education Secretary Sara Duterte-Carpio to review the country’s K to 12 education system that would prepare Filipino kids for higher learning.

Duterte-Carpio, whom Marcos tabbed as Education Secretary, said Monday this is something that needs to be discussed and “cannot be decided overnight.”

“But initially, it is something that President Marcos and I have talked about. And he already gave instructions with regard to the review of the implementation of the K to 12 program of the Department of Education,” she told reporters in Davao City, where she remains mayor until June 30.

The K to 12 curriculum, first introduced in 2011 and implemented during the administration of the late President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, has been under review for the past two years.

In his own press briefing yesterday in Mandaluyong City, Marcos said he does not want to preempt Duterte-Carpio’s plans as incoming DepEd Secretary.

“We need to do a lot to recover our grading. Mataas tayo noon e, kailangan nating balikan ‘yan (we were at a high level before, we need to get back to that,” he said, adding he wanted to support teachers with retraining, supplies, and equipment.

“I’m very confident that as long as we have a program in place to support our teachers, not only in terms of their benefits – but of course that’s an important part of it – but also in other support, we can get back to that level,” the President-elect added.

Meanwhile, the physical distancing rule may be relaxed in schools holding limited in-person classes under the lowest COVID-19 alert level, a move that would allow more students to attend classroom sessions, the Education department said Monday.

The Department of Health has advised DepEd that it could relax the distancing protocol in schools under Alert Level 1, said Education Undersecretary Nepomuceno Malaluan.

“Right now we have a limitation on the number of students that we can accommodate in a classroom to observe the physical distancing requirement,” Malaluan said in a televised public briefing.

“When the new school year begins, the protocol that the Department of Health relayed to us is that we can relax physical distancing if a school is under Alert Level 1,” he said.

An ally of Marcos and Duterte-Carpio, reelected Senator Win Gatchalian, affirmed his commitment to support and work with the Vice President-elect “to effectively address the crisis hounding the education sector.”

For Gatchalian, who is set to retain his chairmanship of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture in the 19th Congress, the DepEd’s immediate priority should be the recovery of the basic education sector from the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact.

The lawmaker cites the need to focus on improving the performance of the country’s learners.

Another ally, Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Salceda, said the (DepEd) may be allocated more budget to finance its projects in the coming years with the Vice President-elect Sara Duterte as its incoming chief.

In an ANC interview, Salceda pointed out that during Duterte’s coming term as DepEd secretary, she should work on making the students in the country more skilled and competitive, as well as focus on training the teachers themselves in order to do so.

“That needs to be budgeted. I think for the first time, DepEd will have a better position to fight for its budget, unlike before when the DepEd Secretary was not a Vice President,” he said.

“Because she is Vice President now, with 32.2 million votes, with the highest majority since (the late President Ramon) Magsaysay, then I think she will have the mandate, as well as the access to resources to fight for the needed resources in order to make DepEd more competitive and do its national mandate,” Salceda added.

For this year, the Senate approved the DepEd’s proposed P629.8-billion budget, a 6% increase from its P595-billion budget in 2021.

To jumpstart the basic education sector’s recovery, Gatchalian is pushing for the full reopening of all schools, child development centers, and Alternative Learning System (ALS) community learning centers by August.

Gatchalian also emphasized the need to implement learning recovery programs focused on reading and numeracy to address learning loss.

Malaluan said the DepEd was in the process of crafting guidelines for learning delivery in the next school year, which would also determine

how blended learning would be implemented.

“The extent [of blended learning] will be contained in the guidelines. In other words, how many days will be face-to-face and how many will be allowed for remote learning, as a combination,” he explained.

Should a potential surge in COVID-19 cases prompt the government to raise the alert level in certain areas, schools are already familiar with the various protocols, Malaluan said.

Only schools under Alert Levels 1 and 2 are allowed to hold physical classes in basic education.

“It really works like our storm signal… Our schools know the protocols for each of these alert levels,” he said.

As of June 16, 32,787 or 72.66 percent of public schools in the country have started conducting face-to-face classes, according to DepEd data.

Meanwhile, 1,063 private schools are implementing in-person classes, equivalent to only 8.60 percent of the total number, DepEd data showed.

The DepEd is eyeing for all schools to hold limited in-person classes during School Year 2022-2023, tentatively scheduled to begin on Aug. 22.

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