27.2 million students troop to schools nationwide

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Over 27.2 million students trooped back to schools nationwide as the school year 2019-2020 officially opened on Monday, June 3.

The Department of Education (DepEd) declared it is ready to start the new academic year after weeks of preparations from its Brigada Eskwela operations and early registration that aimed to help the department prep for possible concerns when the new year comes.

The opening of the new school year comes as some public schools still face the perennial problem of the availability of classrooms, especially in highly populated areas of Metro Manila. Teachers in Bagong Silangan, Quezon City, for instance, reported the lack of classrooms has forced some 80 to 100 students to fit inside a single room.

Education Secretary Leonor Briones earlier said the growing population of school children has given way to an "increasing number of challenges." Despite this, she gave assurances the DepEd was expanding efforts "to deliver quality, accessible, relevant, and liberating basic education."

In line with the opening of classes, DepEd convened its task force "Oplan Balik-Eskwela," which included officials from the Philippine National Police, Department of Health, Department of Interior and Local Government, Department of Social Welfare and Development, and Department of Trade and Industry, among others.

The different agencies will be responsible for ensuring the safety of students on Monday and will also provide support for learners throughout the year. Support for students includes access to health care, assistance during crisis or emergency situations, and road safety, among others.

Briones also said the department will continue to expand its Alternative Learning System for the coming school year.

Aside from this, DepEd said it would continue its school-based feeding and last mile schools. It will also prioritize the establishment schools in barangays without elementary schools, and in areas which lack secondary schools.

With the K-12 program in its 4th year of implementation, Briones said a review of the DepEd curriculum will take place. Meanwhile, teachers are also expected to receive professional development through the National Educators Academy of the Philippines. – Rappler.com

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs, the overseas Filipino workers, and elections. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.