DepEd fills learning gaps at the start of in-person classes

As students begin in-person classes, the Department for Education (DepEd) will focus on addressing learning gaps that have prevented schools from producing capable, employable and characterful graduates – targeted under the K-12 curriculum – during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Vice President and Secretary of Education Sara Duterte CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

The DepEd follows the framework of the Basic Education Development Plan (BEDP) 2030 – a long-term program developed at the time of former Education Secretary Leonor Briones in consultation with partners and stakeholders – to meet the challenges of the education sector. Its five pillars are access, equity, quality, resilience and well-being.

Education Department spokesman Michael Poa said while the agency’s current administration, led by Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte, is using strategies under the BEDP 2030, it could still implement changes based on the situation on the ground and responses to activities.

“This year we are focusing on learning recovery plans. Even before the pandemic, we already had learning gaps, which were accentuated during the pandemic because we had a lot of learners who were no longer going to school for various reasons including difficulties with internet connectivity in remote areas and having to rely on parents for their education with the use of self-study modules,” he told the Manila Times.

He reiterated that for the 2022-2023 school year, getting students back to schools for five-day in-person classes remained the top priority, with mandatory implementation by November.

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“For the next year and the years to come, the direction is to improve the quality of education with the aim of producing learners who are characterful, competent and employable after K-12, which is not yet achieved. This is something we are working on,” he added.

The opening of the school year last August, according to Poa, went smoothly and overall in an orderly fashion. He admitted, however, that problems that existed before the pandemic, such as the lack of classrooms, school furniture and teachers, remained.

He assured that the DepEd would provide interim or temporary solutions and that medium and long term solutions were also being worked out, such as addressing the lack of classrooms – the backlog now over 90,000 – and consideration of the possible institutionalization of blended learning arrangements.

As for the DeEd’s request for a substantial increase in its budget, Poa pointed out that budget constraints and absorptive capacity were preventing the Department of Public Works and Highways from improving the nation’s infrastructure.

The DepEd said it will hire more teachers to fill vacant and newly created positions this year and about 10,000 more for 2023-24. It also investigates the non-monetary benefits for teachers as well as the reduction of administrative tasks, eliminating them altogether – if possible – so that teachers can concentrate on teaching in the classroom.

Part of the department’s plan is also to provide students in last mile schools and remote areas with reliable internet connectivity through a partnership with the Department of Information and Communications Technology.

In terms of quality, a review of the K-12 curriculum is underway – the previous administration completed K-10. The Upper Secondary School (SHS) curriculum is also being assessed, aiming to reduce the number of skills to focus on English, maths, science and basic and functional literacy, and reviewing applications industry to ensure that what is needed is taught.

Participation in international assessments, including the Program for International Student Assessment, and aligning them with local equivalents like the National Achievement Test will show whether or not interventions have worked, Poa said.

The DepEd also pursues a holistic approach to education, addressing the well-being and resilience of learners by making psychological first aid more accessible, especially during calamities and disasters, and by improving the skills of teachers and caregivers. guidance counselors in coordination with local governments.

Amid reports of sexual harassment and abuse, the DepEd said it would strengthen its child protection unit and maintain a zero-tolerance policy to keep schools safe. It has also initiated a hotline with the Office of the Secretary to encourage reporting of such incidents for investigation, legal action and provision of advisory services.

“The good thing about education is that there are assessments for us to determine if there have been improvements in our learning because we see exact numbers,” Poa said. “We can’t solve [these problems] overnight – it will take years – but at least if we can’t close all the learning gaps for the next six years… we hope to see an improvement in the quality of basic education that we want to dispense.

Meanwhile, private schools continue to call on DepEd to provide additional financial support through the Educational Services Contract program, which they hope can expand to primary learners (K-6), and the SHS voucher program.

The Executive Director of the Private Education Assistance Committee, Rhodora Ferrer, also called on the government to subsidize the salaries of teachers in private schools to prevent them from migrating to public schools and ensure the sustainability of private education in the country, after the closure of more than 400 schools during the pandemic. .

The Alliance of Concerned Teachers has been pushing for increased salaries, equipment and funding that will enable more effective teaching and a national assessment that will serve as the basis for an evidence-based recovery plan to close the gaps in education. learning, pointing out that online tests are ineffective in measuring the extent of the education crisis.

The Higher Education Commission, for its part, said it remains committed to supporting higher education institutions and ensuring the delivery of quality-assured programs that will produce work-ready graduates for the 21st century.