SUCCESSFUL DAY. Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Z. Duterte talks with a primary learner in Dinalupihan Elementary School in Bataan on Monday (Aug. 22, 2022). Duterte led the national school opening of in-person classes where she claimed a "successful day" for learners. (Photo Courtesy: Office of the Vice President)

MANILA – Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Z. Duterte personally gave her inspirational message to learners in several schools in Bataan as she joined the national school opening day on Monday.

In an interview, Duterte thanked all teaching, non-teaching, and all stakeholders who have put so much effort to prepare for the official reopening of face-to-face classes.

She also told learners to uphold their dedication to finish school.

“Ang makakapagpabago sa buhay ninyo ay ang determinasyon ninyong magtagumpay (What will change your life is your determination to succeed),” she said.

She said the resumption of in-person learning is already considered a victory for learners, especially now that the government primarily aims to address the “learning loss.”

“Isang malaking tagumpay para sa mga kabataang Pilipino ang muling pagsisimula ng in-person learning ngayong araw na ito. Isang hakbang na buong tapang na ginawa ng DepEd sa kabila ng mga hamon at takot na dala ng Covid-19 pandemic (The reopening of in-person classes today is a huge success for Filipino children. A step which was bravely done by the DepEd despite the threats and fear brought by the Covid-19 pandemic),” she said during her speech at the Dinalupihan Elementary School (DES) in Bataan.

School Division Superintendent and DES officer-in-charge Roland Fronda said even teachers are prepared for the in-person setup, with the majority being inoculated against Covid-19.

“About 99 or 98 percent of our teachers are vaccinated in Bataan. We have almost 6,200 teachers and only around 10-20 teachers are not yet vaccinated because of comorbidities, there are still religious beliefs but this time we are no longer prohibited [to teach]," he said.

Duterte, although acknowledging the validity of reasons raised by several groups asking to delay the resumption of in-person learning said neither the pandemic nor the lack of infrastructures or classrooms can be used as an excuse to suspend classes.

She underscored the administration’s move, which is “data and research-driven”, with the need to be urgently addressed to strengthen the nation in the upcoming times.

“Hindi na po natin kaya na muling maantala pa ang pag-aaral ng mga kabataang Pilipino… sa in-person learning makakakuha ng makahulugan, sapat, wasto at dekalidad na edukasyon (We can no longer afford the delay of [in-person] learning among Filipino youth… in the in-person learning, students will be getting meaningful, proper and quality education),” she added.

The Vice President also mentioned their “learning recovery plans to address learning gaps and accelerate students learning,” which will be complemented by other partnership interventions.

School readiness

Senator Grace Poe, meanwhile, said the government “could have been better prepared” in the resumption of face-to-face setup as heavy traffic happened on some major roads and Quezon City, while some learners in a school in Manila were reported sitting on the floor due to inadequacy of chairs.

DepEd spokesperson Michael Poa admitted that the first day of classes is not “without any problem,” yet it went on generally smooth and in order.

“We just want to address yung readiness ng ating schools, the Department of Education said we were ready, but when we said we were ready, alam naman natin (we know that), it is not gonna be without problems, nandiyan naman po 'yung problema, taun-taon (the problems are there, every year),” he said.

To date, around 28,035,042 learners are enrolled nationwide, a 101 percent record compared to last school year’s tally.

The DepEd earlier urged parents to enroll their children as “soon as possible,” as this year’s figure slightly falls short of their 28.6-million target enrollees. (PNA)