FAST FACTS: DepEd's modular learning

On October 5, public schools will reopen in the middle of a still untamed coronavirus outbreak in the country that has so far claimed over 5,000 lives and left 4.6 million Filipinos jobless.

Despite calls to postpone classes until 2021, the Department of Education (DepEd) maintains that education of millions of Filipino students should not wait. (READ: 'Ill-informed': DepEd dismisses calls for academic freeze)

To make sure that learning remains unhampered, DepEd will be implementing a distance learning approach – a learning delivery mode where interaction takes place between the teacher and the students who are geographically remote from each other during instruction. This means lessons will be delivered outside the traditional face-to-face setup. (READ: FAST FACTS: DepEd’s distance learning)

As technology and internet connectivity remain a problem for most students, DepEd will be providing printed module materials for them. (READ: No need to buy gadgets, printed materials will be given – DepEd)

Education Undersecretary Diosdado San Antonio said that almost 13 million public school students or 59% of roughly 22 million enrollees this year will be using printed modules. That would require felling an enormous number of trees to produce paper. (READ: Briones says modular learning 'expensive,' has 'big effect' on environment)

To give you an idea, Senator Ralph Recto, an economist, estimated that 93.6 billion pages of learning modules for millions of public school students will be needed just for one full academic year.

In a virtual press briefing on Monday, September 21, Education Undersecretary Anne Sevilla said that students might have to share modules by next year because there aren't enough funds to reproduce learning materials. (READ: Students might have to share modules next year due to lack of funding – DepEd)

How does DepEd's modular learning work?

Under DepEd's printed modular learning system, students will be provided with self-learning materials (SLMs). Teachers will be giving students SLMs per quarter. That will mean students will be receiving 4 sets of SLMs for one whole academic year.

Distribution. The SLMs will be distributed to parents before the opening of classes. For students whose parents are not available to get these from schools, there will be designated pick up points in their barangays. The distribution will be done at least 4 times for the school year.

Aside from SLMs, workplans will also be distributed to students. But unlike SLMs, this will be given to students weekly as this indicates the schedule of lessons and activities the students will have to do every week. Again, parents or anyone who will guide the students at home will be the ones to get this from teachers or in designated pick-up points.

Retrieval. Accomplished activity sheets will be retrieved by teachers from parents. They will have to submit the activity sheets to teachers in school or in designated pick-up points.

This kind of setup, however, poses risks. Teachers and parents raised concerns over using the modular learning approach due to fears of contracting the coronavirus.

Even though the DepEd said they will coordinate with the local government units (LGUs) for the distribution of the learning modules, especially in high-risk areas, teachers will still have to retrieve them in designated pick-up points. This means they will have to go out and expose themselves to their communities. (READ: Is it safe? Teachers fear exposure to coronavirus in modular learning setup)

Assessment. Students' learning progress will be assessed through summative exercises and performance tasks. DepEd said schools will not be holding periodical examinations for this school year to prevent "distance cheating."

While DepEd acknowledges the importance of periodical tests in assessing students' understanding of the lessons, Education Undersecretary Diosdado San Antonio said that the pandemic compelled them to be "more creative and flexible in implementing summative assessment schemes without sacrificing assessment’s credibility."

San Antonio also advised teachers to do occasional conversations with students throughout so they would know their learning progress.

Despite the shift to distance learning, DepEd earlier said that there will be no changes in the subject areas that will be taught for the school year 2020-2021. (READ: No changes in subjects to be taught this school year – DepEd)

Schools, however, have the liberty to adjust what subjects will be taught per month, provided that all 8 core subjects will be covered every grading quarter, DepEd said.

The 8 core subjects are: English, Mathematics, Filipino, Science, Araling Panlipunan, Technology and Livelihood Education or TLE (for high school); Edukasyong Pangkabuhayan at Pangtahanan (for elementary); Music, Arts, Physical Education, and Health (MAPEH); and Edukasyon sa Pagpapakatao (ESP). Only Grades 1 and 2 have a Mother Tongue subject.

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 September 22, some 22.3 million public school students have signed up for the school opening on October 5, while 2.1 million students in private schools have enrolled. Some private schools began holding classes during the first week of August. – 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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