opening of classes

‘Ill-informed’: DepEd dismisses calls for academic freeze

Bonz Magsambol

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‘Ill-informed’: DepEd dismisses calls for academic freeze

Siblings Marjorie and John Rebolledo, both elementary students, use a Piso Wifi vendo machine near their house at the Baseco Compound in Manila on Monday, September 7, 2020, to attend the online orientation of their school in preparation for the October opening. Photo by Ben Nabong/Rappler

Education Undersecretary Nepomuceno Malaluan says the proposed academic freeze is 'a populist position that is not popular'

The Department of Education (DepEd) dismissed “ill-informed” calls for an “academic freeze” for school year 2020 to 2021 as the country deals with the coronavirus pandemic.

The term “academic freeze” refers to the suspension or cancellation of the school year – an issue that has sparked heated debates not only in the Philippines, as governments try to balance academics and the safety of students.

In a virtual press briefing on Wednesday, September 9, Education Undersecretary Nepomuceno Malaluan said the proposal was “ill-informed” because it “takes the readiness issue with respect to online learning,” while there are other modes of distance learning such as modular, and TV and radio broadcast learning.

“This position is also a short-sighted position. It does not take into consideration the trade-off of prolonged interruption in the learning process of the children and also does not take into consideration the adjustments that need to be made in the succeeding school years,” Malaluan said.

According to Malaluan, the proposal for an academic freeze was also
“a populist position that is not popular.” (READ: Youth group urges Duterte to order ‘academic freeze’ until January 2021)

“We already have the support of as many as 24 million learners and their parents who have enrolled and are ready to participate in distance learning on October 5,” Malaluan said.

The decision to open classes in the middle of a pandemic was met with criticism. Students and parents pointed out that their household finances have been affected by almost 6 months of lockdown, and they could not afford to buy the tools needed for the revamped education system. (READ: No student left behind? During pandemic, education ‘only for those who can afford’)

DepEd shifted to distance learning for the coming school year to comply with President Rodrigo Duterte’s directive for schools to delay face-to-face classes until a coronavirus vaccine becomes available.

As of Wednesday, a total of 24,305,551 pubic and private students have signed up for school opening. This is 3 million lower than last year’s 27.7 million enrollees.

Public schools are set to open on October 5, while some private schools have began their classes in August. –

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Bonz Magsambol

Bonz Magsambol covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler.