The Department of Education (DepEd) will find a way to get some 12,000 public school pupils affected by the siege of Zamboanga City back to class in the coming weeks, even if it is not at their regular schools.
School officials will conduct “alternative delivery modes” for students of four public elementary schools situated in the middle of the fighting between Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) rebels and government forces, as well as for high school students who live in the conflict zone but attend schools elsewhere in the city.
The DepEd made the clarification as it protested the headline on an Inquirer article of Sept. 9 that said “Schools out for 3 months in Zamboanga City.”
“It did not refer to ’no class, no school.’ Learning will continue through what we call alternative delivery modes,” said DepEd Assistant Secretary Rey Laguda.
Laguda, who was part of the DepEd contingent led by Education Secretary Armin Luistro that flew to Zamboanga on Friday to map out class resumption strategies, said the headline went against the DepEd’s goal of having classes resume as soon as it was safe.
He said the alternative modes of learning included having students home-schooled or integrated into nearby schools.
“Next week we will take into account each and every learner,” he said.
Laguda explained that the estimate of three months before the affected schools could return to normal was based on experience in areas hit by major disasters.
Other affected students are those who attend 21 island and coastal public schools considered to be in “danger zones” and those who go to the 13 public schools being used as evacuation centers.
Of the 205 total public schools in Zamboanga City, 167 are far from the conflict area.
Luistro said these schools may resume classes as early as Monday once the city’s interagency crisis committee deems it safe to do so. Dona Z. Pazzibugan