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After backlash, Briones orders review of distance learning requirements for private schools

After receiving backlash, Department of Education (DepEd) Secretary Leonor Briones on Friday, June 26, ordered the review of a department order that set the "non-negotiable" distance learning requirements for private schools.

"In light of the concerns and questions raised by private schools in connection with issuance of DepEd Order No. 013, s. 2020 entitled 'Readiness Assessment Checklist for Learning Delivery Modalities in the Learning Continuity Plan for Private and Non-DepEd Schools,' the Secretary of the Department of Education (DepEd) has directed the review of the said order. A memorandum shall be issued to clarify such issues and concerns," a DepEd advisory read.

On Wednesday, June 24, private schools urged the DepEd to review its order that, they said, were finalized without any public consultation.

Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations managing director Joseph Noel Estrada said that the DepEd requirements "would further marginalize struggling private schools." (READ: FAST FACTS: DepEd’s distance learning)

"DO 13 is inconsistent with DepEd's own learning continuity plans. How can there be continuity of learning if DepEd itself provides the regulatory barriers for schools to continue?" asked Estrada.

Among the "non-negotiable" requirements the DepEd prescribed for private schools are setting up own email domain and educational platform, hiring help desk personnel whose task is to answer queries, and making sure that students and teachers have the necessary resources to access the lessons. (READ: Private schools to DepEd: Review 'non-negotiable' distance learning requirements)

The Alliance of Concerned Teachers also slammed the DepEd for its "hypocrisy" in setting requirements for private schools when it could not commit to providing the same requirements for public schools. (READ: Duterte on DepEd's distance learning: 'I don't know if we're ready')

"The requirements it demands from private schools are the same ones teachers and parents have been calling for in the public sector, but to which DepEd has not committed," ACT Secretary General Raymond Basilio said in a statement.

The DepEd has decided to shift to distance learning for school year 2020-2021 after President Rodrigo Dutertes' directive for schools to postpone face-to-face classes until a coronavirus vaccine becomes available.

As of Friday, over 14 million public and private school students have so far signed up for the opening of classes in August.

The initial enrolees, however, is just a little over half of 2019's 27.7 million students.

Despite calls to delay the school opening, the DepEd said that its preparations for the distance learning approach were "underway." (READ: Teachers' group wants class opening delayed to January 2021)

With two months left before the class opening on August 24, the DepEd has yet to release specific guidelines on how distance learning will work. – Rappler.com

Bonz Magsambol

Bonz Magsambol is a multimedia reporter for Rappler, covering health, education, and social welfare. He first joined Rappler as a social media producer in 2016.

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