SIX years have passed. Seems so sudden, yet so fulfilling for the Department of Education (DepEd).

DepEd Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones, under the term of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, has significantly boosted the Department starting off with the full implementation of Senior High School (SHS) up to the delivery of education during the time of the pandemic.

Implementing the SHS in 2016, which was the first in the country, was so challenging. For a major transformation like this in the education system, it takes a strong leader at the wheel. She steered the implementation of Grades 11 and 12 in the right direction.

Four years later, the worst nightmare in the face of a virus hit the country in 2020 and gravely affected us including the education system. The question of whether children needed to stop learning and whether schools needed to be closed surfaced all over. But Sec. Briones, with the approval of Pres. Duterte was firm to continue education.

New learning modalities under the new normal were introduced from modular to online learning, radio, and TV-based instructions. Despite the changes, the number of enrollment was still high with more than 27 million learners.

Under Sec. Briones’ leadership was the establishment of the National Academy of Sports (NAS) and the Education Futures Programme.

DepEd provides full scholarships to talented student-athletes from Grade 7 up to Grade 12 with a reasonable monthly stipend, free board and lodging, and school and training uniforms.

DepEd also established the Education Futures Programme aimed at studying new development in the global education landscape such as the possibility of using robotics in teaching, machines, as well as brain implants.

With all these lofty milestones in DepEd, Sec. Briones was in the big picture and knew the bigger plans. Thank you, Secretary Briones.

In between all these, the Alternative Learning System (ALS) has become a legacy program of Pres. Duterte’s term and Sec. Briones took part in the significant increase in the number of ALS A&E (Accreditation and Equivalency) test passers.

The increase can be correlated to the policy reforms that DepEd introduced to improve the reach and quality of the ALS program. The ALS curriculum was aligned with the K to 12 curriculum. The ALS learners are equipped with 21st-century skills.

Because of the increased budget allocation, DepEd carried out reforms such as building more infrastructures and facilities, increasing teachers’ pay, and modernizing the approach to teaching that benefits Filipino learners.

In 2021, the budget stood at P595 billion. In 2022, it has increased by 6 percent to P629.8 billion.

Records showed that 150,149 new classrooms were built, 12,786 technical and vocational laboratories were constructed, 103,548 classrooms were rehabilitated, and 588 Gabaldon Heritage Schools were rebuilt. These numbers illustrate a great development compared to the numbers from 2010 to 2016 period.

The Department also focused on increasing teachers’ salaries. When Pres. Duterte assumed office in 2016, and a teacher at the lowest level position earned P19,077. Now in 2022, it is increased to P25,439.

Just last Friday, the BEDP 2030 (Basic Education Development Plan) was launched and it is the country’s first long-term plan for basic education. It is designed to address the root cause of the problems in quality, close the access gaps, sustain and enhance relevant programs, and introduce innovations.

DepEd has huge improvements in the last six years. Thank you for the inspiring leadership, Sec. Briones.

With the transition of leadership, the new administration under Vice President Sara Z. Duterte will take DepEd to a new level.