An official of the Department of Education (DepEd) on Wednesday dismissed calls for “academic freeze”, saying it is a “shortsighted” solution that could affect the entire educational system.
“We believe that this call for academic freeze is a populist position that is not popular, because 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. This position is shortsighted as it does not take into consideration the trade-off of prolonged interruption,” DepEd Undersecretary Nepomuceno Malaluan said in a virtual media briefing.
The hashtag #AcademicFreezeNOW has been trending on Twitter Philippines since netizens share their frustrations on online learning and other distance learning modalities.
A user with the handle “The Ruins” addressed a petition on Change.org to the DepEd to halt the start of the school year “until the digital divide is fully resolved or results of mass testing and curve-flattening are already evaluated empirically.”
The user argued that “not everybody has the means to adapt to the new normal type of schooling and online learning is proven to be ineffective and insufficient”.
As of Wednesday, the petition has gathered 233,000 signatories out of its 300,000 target signatures.
Malaluan said the petition was “ill-informed” since online learning would not be the only distance learning modality to be implemented in the incoming school year.
“We hope that this matter would be laid to rest as a backward position and let this matter be already responded to finally by the department. Our singular focus is to ensure safe learning resumption by October 5 through distance and blended learning,” he added.
Meanwhile, DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones said distance learning dry runs were being done in schools so that classes would start smoothly on October 5.
“It’s not as if we’re suddenly starting classes by October 5, because, more or less, we already know the challenges and we’re addressing them,” Briones said.
The department has reported that some 31,000 schools have accomplished their dry runs before August.
It added there are 11,698 schools which will perform simulations before the official start of classes. (PNA)