DepEd’s blended and distant learning SY-2020-2021 get Duterte’s go signal

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DAVAO CITY — Department of Education Secretary Leonora Briones suggested Thursday that her department will adopt the so-called Blended and Distant Learning for the school year 2020-2021, a proposal which got the nod of President Rodrigo Duterte.

Briones said pending the release of the anti-coronavirus vaccine, her agency will open the school year without the traditional face to face method of teaching but through varied means of education which she calls ‘Blended and Distant Learning.’

To understand the scheme, Newsline is releasing the full text and conversation between the President and Briones during the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF-EID) meeting Thursday night.

Briones said:

DepEd to assure you that we are one with you in your uncompromising stand on the matter of the health and the safety of our learners and our teachers.

You said, “I will not allow the opening of classes na dikit-dikit ang mga bata. Para sa akin bakuna muna bago — andiyan ang bakuna, okay na”.

We are saying, there are confusion and anxiety among Filipino families especially the parents. We are here to state that we are one with you, Mr. President, in this non-negotiable commitment. It is the first and the most important principle when we worked out our learning community plan with all the details. We stated this also: The first and foremost concern is the health and safety of all learners and our teachers.

Mr. President, there has been confusion among our people who associate the opening of school with what we describe as “face-to-face” classes.

Well, we are used to learners, we are used to teachers facing each other and we are used to children going to school physically. But we are saying that there will be no face-to-face classes and sessions until we are assured of the safety of our children and our teachers.

We can provide learning opportunities to our students without necessarily requiring them to go to school, and this we can do through what is described as “blended and distant learning.”

Mr. President, this is not a new thing. We have many universities and schools which offer distant learning in many ways. We now call it blended learning because various approaches which are adjusted to the actual situation of the communities will be applied.

But these are all, Mr. President, consistent with your preference that we should not be physically sending our children to school until it is safe to do so.

What is this so-called blending or learning modalities? Because right now, there is a bill which is filed in Congress on this. One, for those who don’t have connections, who don’t have interactive facilities, there will be what we describe as printed material which will be delivered to the homes of the students through the barangays, can be picked up also by their parents at designated places within coordinated schedules. We will be working very closely with the barangays and the local governments. 

And the second approach is now very popular, Mr. President. This is the online learning platform and we, in DepEd, have what we describe as DepEd Commons. Right now, we already have over 7 million subscribers wherein lessons, homework, quizzes, tips to learners, and to teachers are all in the DepEd Commons and are accessible even to the parents.

So we have instances, Mr. President, of parents who are abroad and who are monitoring what is happening to their children, they also go to the DepEd Commons and check on how the children are doing. Now in cases, Mr. President, where there is no connectivity and printed materials may not be available immediately, we have the classic long- time approaches, which have always been used in education, and this would be television. Those homes which do not necessarily have connectivity and — may have television.

And the most and the best-used approach, of course, is radio-based instruction. Kasi ang television mga 1950s, ‘60s, radios have been around since the 1800s when it was first invented.

And we know the two World Wars were won through radio messages and not necessarily computers and so on. So ‘yung printed modules, Mr. President, we have a description of what it entails.

And then also on the matter of online, ito ‘yung popular talaga — it’s gaining popularity — online distance learning with already 7 million subscribers and we assume here that they have access to the internet. And one worry is, how about the students and the teachers? Do they have access to laptops?

We made a survey, Mr. President, of teachers more than about 788,000 of them to find out whether they have laptops or desktops in their homes. More than 80%, nearly 700,000 have laptops or desktops in their homes because teachers acquire these for various uses. They have family members abroad, or friends, et cetera, et cetera. So this is a very, very popular mechanism for dispensing education.

Now for those who don’t have access to interconnectivity, then we have television. Right now, Mr. President, 15% of television time — this is provided by law — should be dedicated to programs designed for children. So, there are already existing educational programs on television stations. What we need to do is to utilize these programs to transmit our curricula and we are working out how to do this.

For example, Mr. President, PCOO is volunteering its TV facilities and also IBC-13 which is radio for the utilization of lessons through radio and television. Radio and television for those who don’t have access to a computer.

Now radio-based instruction is quite popular, Mr. President because right now municipalities are volunteering. Usually, municipalities have their radio stations, cities have radio stations, there are local radio stations, and big networks also have radio stations, and many of them have lessons which ‘yung tawag is “schools on the air”. Mayroong mga religious groups, they give lessons in agriculture, lessons in whatever sciences over the air because alam nila not everybody has access to television or to online computers.

So ito ‘yung pinaka-ancient — pinakamatandang paraan for teaching as an alternative to face-to-face. Now, Mr. President, what we are doing in the regions is — the regions are different from each other. Some regions have many islands, some regions have many mountains, some regions have interconnectivity, and so on and so forth.

So what our regions are now doing is to translate our curriculum for lecture — the teacher lectures the children for long periods of time. It has to be translated into digital modes sa platforms natin into television programs because children have to be taught in a different way.

Iba ‘yung effect ng television programs because their attention span can be very brief as well. And then also converted into radio scripts. So this is where much of the work is now being concentrated.

What we are saying, Mr. President is that we fully and completely support your stand that our children should not be exposed to the dangers of COVID-19 physically but we are also offering opportunities for them to continue their studies and their learnings.

And some people ask: are we prepared? What we are trying to do, Mr. President is not really new. Hindi naman ito bagong imbento because distance education — many universities have distance education programs. Many local governments have radio stations. We are utilizing existing ways of communication without necessarily requiring our children to go to school.

So they can still go to school, they can still study, teachers can monitor them as well as their parents.

So ito ‘yung ano namin, Mr. President, which we would like to share with you and we seek your approval of our alternative ways of learning which are already existing right now.

And these are being done by many schools but this time mas malaki ang emphasis because we are now shifting to less physical, face-to-face classes, but education will continue, Mr. President. Thank you.

PRESIDENT DUTERTE: 

I’m impressed with the simplicity of the program, ma’am. And I believe that all that you have said is really feasible. Radio kung walang television and all of these things.

I believe we have a very workable program and I support you.

SEC. BRIONES: Thank you, sir.

PRESIDENT DUTERTE: 

And should you require any help from any of the departments, feel free to communicate with them. If it’s a question of funding, I will — so to speak, scrape the bottom — the bottom of the barrel…

SEC. BRIONES: Barrel. [laughs]

PRESIDENT DUETERTE:

. . . Well, eh kung wala na tayong pera, edukar na lang — ilagay na lang sa edukasyon sa mga bata. We will have to forgo many things along the way because of what happened.

But education, I think, if it is compromised, it should be negligible so that it should go on because the future of this country depends on how we educate our young people nowadays.

I agree with you in this program. I support you. And if there’s anything that we can do — DILG and — or whatever, we will endeavor to help you.”

The proposed scheme has yet to be disseminated to the learners and their parents.-Newsline

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