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Spurred by ‘genuine concern’: Sara quits DepEd

Caecent No-ot Magsumbol - The Freeman
Spurred by �genuine concern�: Sara quits DepEd
Vice President Sara Duterte on June 19, 2024.
Photos courtesy of the Office of the Vice President

CEBU, Philippines — Vice President Sara Duterte has resigned as education secretary effective July 19, 2024.

The Presidential Communications Office announced Duterte's resignation as DepEd secretary and vice chairperson of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict on social media yesterday.

Later in the day Duterte herself, confirmed the announcement in a press conference organized by Department of Education (DepEd) and aired live through its Facebook page.

“Earlier today, June 19, 2024, I sought an audience with the President, and tended my resignation as a secretary of education effective July 19, 2024…. I have given my 30-day notice to ensure the proper and orderly transition for the benefits of the next Secretary,” Duterte said.

She was, however, not forthcoming with her reason for leaving, except that she was spurred by genuine concern for the teachers and the students.

“Mga kababayan, ang aking pagbibitiw ay hindi lulan ng kahinaan, kundi dala ng tunay na malasakit para sa ating mga guro at kabataang Pilipino,” she added.

But even as she steps down as the education secretary, Duterte assured she will continue to keep an eye on the teachers and the student’s welfare.

“Bagamat hindi ako magpapatuloy na mamahala sa Kagawan patuloy parin nating itataguyod ang kalidad ng edukasyon na nararapat para sa Pilipino.... Hindi man ako ang tumatayong Kalihim ng Edukasyon, manatili akong isang ina, isang ina na nagmamatyag at titindig sa kapakanan ng bawat guro at bawat mag aaral sa Pilipinas para sa isang metatag na Pilipinas,” she said.

She also recalled the time she started at her task of being the education secretary, when she spent time to look into the situation on the ground and listened to the teachers as well as the students and parents speak about their plight.

“Ang mga narinig ko ay mga sari-saring kwento ng katatagan, pagmamahal sa napiling bokasyon at pagsisikap upang makamit ang munting pangarap,” Duterte said.

She then stressed that DepEd’s Matatag agenda is not a mere campaign, as it “encapsulates and defines what Philippine education along with its approximately 28 million learners and almost a million teacher already embodies.”

“Our children, are the children of heroes…They deserve no less than an education system that can fully unleash true potential and effectively mold them into vital contributors for nation building. As I speak before you today, I speak of the road we have traveled thus far,” she added.

She also laid out what DepEd has done under her care, including institutional reforms through the “improvement of the curriculum, acceleration of basic education infrastructure and facilities, promotion of learners’ safety and well-being, and the provision of much needed support for teacher quality and welfare”.

“In the last 24 months, DepEd has launched a new curriculum for kindergarten to grade 10…As we open our schools on July 29, we highly anticipate its nationwide implementation.  Our curriculum, however, is a mere scrap of paper without the necessary resources for its effective delivery. In order to provide resources such as textbooks, supplemental reading materials, as well as learning tools and equipment, we took strides to improve the procurement process within the Department,” Duterte said.

Based on DepEd memo 008, s. 2024 she signed and released last June 18, the next school year would open on July 29, 2024 and would end on April 15, 2025.

“The fact of fiscal restrictions and inadequate resources is known to all.... Therefore, that DepEd has had to innovate in the provision of basic education facility alongside building new classrooms, we tapped into digital infrastructure in order to address the congestion and avoid learning disruptions during times of calamity,” the vice president said.

At present, an additional 2,000 last mile schools have been given Internet connections through satellites, while 305 schools have been connected through fiber Internet and. By the end of 2025, it is expected that all schools to be connected.

“With the emergence of technology and social media, our learners also face new and emerging challenges. Hindi Biro ang maging magaral sa panahong ito,” Duterte said.

DepEd has also launched a centralized reporting system through the Learner's Rights and Protection Office for safe and conducive learning environment for our learners.

“We continue to provide awareness and work with partner agencies to shield our learners and teachers from all forms of abuse, illegal drugs, terrorism, insurgency and all forms of criminal activities,” Duterte said.

For inclusivity, DepEd also continued to strengthen the alternative learning system and special needs education with a “no child should be left behind” approach.

And teachers, being a cornerstone of any educational system,” also gets their concerns addressed through the National Educators Academy.

“We have provided avenues for teacher training and professional development. We have provided personal accident insurance to assist our teachers when they need it most. We have removed all administrative tasks to unburden our teachers, to bring them back to the classroom and to allow them to focus on teaching.  We have also given our teachers they're much needed rest. A 30-day no mandatory or voluntary tasks break. Which they are currently enjoying as we speak,” she added.

Everything they have done so far, Duterte said, was made possible with the support of DepEd’s partner agencies in the National Government, the local government units, and the private sector, whether foreign or domestic, and she is thankful for it.

Duterte also thanked her DepEd family, from the executive committee to the central office, to the regional and school officials, teachers, and non-teaching personnel.

“Sa dalawang taon nating pagsasama, ang kwentong nabuo natin ay kwento ng kapit bisig na pagtaguyod sa adhikaing maitatag ang isang makabata at batang makabansa. Ngunit anumang kwento, kahit gaano ka ganda ay sadyang nagtatapos din,” she said. — /RHM (FREEMAN)

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