DEPARTMENT of Education (DepEd) Secretary Leonor Briones is confident that a blended learning strategy for the next school year will work.

Classes will open on August 24, 2020, more than two months after the usual school opening in June.

“Ang importante patuloy ang edukasyon, bubuksan ang ating classes on August 24, ang DepEd ay handa na, nakita namin ‘yan sa simulation, it will work,” Briones said during the Tatak ng Pagbabago pre-Sona forum Wednesday, July 15.

Briones said there are at least 179 million mobile phones in the Philippines.

“Kaya ang ating polisiya ay blended learning kung saan mayroon tayong online platforms. Nearly nine million ang naka-subscribe sa ating online platforms kung saan nandoon lahat ng materyales natin, puwedeng gamitin ang ating mga gadgets, puwedeng gamitin ang cellphones. There are 179 million cellphones all over the country,” she said.

She said, however, that the agency is not forcing educational institutions to go online.

“Many of our teachers have gadgets, but we are not insisting that they go online kasi may ibang alternatibo. Kung hindi puwede ang online, ang sabi namin nandiyan ang telebisyon, nandiyan ang radyo,” Briones said.

The DepEd is now working closely with the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) on the use of its radio and television facilities for blended learning.

“Right now, kami ay nakikipag-coordinate sa PCOO para ma-expand, para magamit ang kanilang radio and television facilities. Ina-assess din namin ang napakadaming offers ng public and private sector providers para sa alternative ways of learning,” Briones said.

According to Briones, printed learning materials are always available for students who will not be able to connect online.

“Kung di talaga puwede, kung walang connectivity, mayroon tayong mga printed modular materials na i di-distribute sa mga bahay, sa ating mga eskwelahan sa tulong ng ating mga local governments,” she said.

“Hindi pinipilit ang mga bata na mag-online sila kung di talaga puwede ang online dahil maraming paraan na maturuan sila na hindi online,” she added.

As of Wednesday, Briones said more than 20.22 million students nationwide who enrolled for the next school year.

“As of this morning, practically, three fourths of our enrollees last year have returned. We have a total of 20,220,507 learners who are already registered with us and more will be coming tomorrow, and many more will take advantage of delayed enrollment policy of DepEd,” Briones said.

“Ang latest enrollment numbers natin, tomorrow will be the last day of enrollment, but there are also provisions for late enrollment,” she said.

The official also said 257,220 learners have applied for the agency’s alternative learning system. They include displaced workers due to the Covid-19 crisis.

“I am happy to report that for our alternative learning system, 257,220 learners have enrolled despite the fact that our working learners are still in the process of adjustment to their new situation,” Briones said. (SunStar Philippines)