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17 agencies join DepEd in Oplan Balik Eskwela

Rainier Allan Ronda - The Philippine Star
17 agencies join DepEd in Oplan Balik Eskwela
Back after two years: A teacher at the Saint Mary’s University Grade School guides her students during the first day of face-to-face classes in Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya yesterday.
Victor Martin

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Education (DepEd) has enlisted the active participation of 17 agencies for the agency’s 2022 Oplan Balik Eskwela (OBE) program to prepare for the opening of classes in public schools nationwide on Monday.

The DepEd has so far recorded a running total of enrollees of 20.62 million for school year (SY) 2022-2023 as of 7 a.m. yesterday.

In an information graphic provided to media, the DepEd said that of the 20.62 million enrollees, 18.1 million are in public schools, 2.4 million in private schools and 70,386 are enrolled in state universities and colleges and local universities and colleges.

Epimaco Densing, education undersecretary and OBE chairman, said the DepEd needed all the help they can get from other government agencies and the private sector to make the reopening of classes orderly.

Densing reiterated that as per DepEd Order 34 issued by Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte, the DepEd is allowing blended learning from Aug. 22 up to Oct. 31.

“From Nov. 2, there has to be 100 percent face-to-face (classes),” Densing said at the OBE launch ceremonies yesterday morning.
He added DepEd has long been preparing for the opening of schools.

Densing pointed out that the OBE effort this year was a different kind of challenge as it was done by the DepEd amid the two-year pandemic and with an aim to move to a gradual return to full face-to-face classes.

Densing thanked the 17 agencies for their active support and participation.

He identifed the 17 agencies as the Departments of Health, Social Welfare and Development, Defense, Transportation, Energy, Public Works and Highways, Science and Technology, Interior and Local Government, Information and Communications Technology, Trade and Industry, Philippine National Police, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration, Department of Science and Technology,  National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council; Office of the Press Secretary, National Telecommunications Commission; Manila Electric Co. and Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System.

Meanwhile, public school teachers’ umbrella federation the Teachers’ Dignity Coalition (TDC) said mentors are ready to go back to school on the scheduled opening of classes next Monday, but they will continue to await for a “final response” from Duterte on their appeal to postpone the opening of classes so as to extend the school break of teachers.

The TDC said a longer school break will serve to provide a “breathing space” for the teachers to prepare physically, emotionally and mentally for another school year.

The sacrifices of the teachers have been too much and the two-month vacation that they used to enjoy has not been considered, according to the group.

“Today we received reports that teachers are required to report to school even if classes start on Aug. 22. They only finished their official tasks for SY 2021-2022 in mid-July, then there was enrichment, remedial classes and enrolment on July 25, Brigada Eskwela starting Aug. 1 and other in-service training programs this week. Th teachers actually had no rest period,” TDC national chairman Benjo Basas said.

The TDC had the opportunity to discuss their request for an extension of school break with Duterte at a virtual meeting last Aug. 2.

The Vice President, however, said it is no longer possible because the schedule has already been approved by the President and all the preparations are focused on the scheduled opening. – Sheila Crisostomo, Ramon Efren Lazaro

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