Is PH ready for class opening? Briones says, ‘Heroes never asked if they were ready for battle’
MANILA, Philippines — As school reopens, Education Secretary Leonor Briones said that the department, along with its teachers, is ready to face the challenges of blended learning amid the threat of the coronavirus pandemic, just as national heroes in the past never asked if they were ready for battle.
Briones made the parallelism during the program of the Department of Education, as she declared the official opening of the school year 2020-2021 despite concerns on the country’s readiness to resume classes amid the pandemic.
The question is not something that Briones would be answering for the first time, however.
“This is a question which is often asked. Lapu-Lapu did not hesitate when he and his men fought and killed the foreign enemy with bamboo spears and bolos against cannons, guns and cutlasses. Andres Bonifacio did not wonder if he and his Katipuneros were ready when they tore their cedulas and triggered the Cry of Balintawak,” said Briones.
“Diego Silang did not ask his wife Gabriela, ‘are we ready?’ General Luna did not hesitate and ask if he was ready when he led the resistance against foreign invaders. Neither did Pantaleon Villegas, known as Leon Kilat hesitate when he led the revolutionary movement in Negros Oriental and in Cebu.
“Dagohoy of Bohol did not cringe with fright. The great Sultan Kudarat of Mindanao did not whisper in fear and trembling: ‘Are we ready? When will we be ready?'” she added.
Briones said students should not be stalled in their studies because there are crises or problems that could arise anytime.
“Araw-araw may bagong krisis, bagong problema at bagong pagkukulang. Paghihintayin ba namin kayong mga mag-aaral?” she said.
(Everyday, there are new crises and problems. Should we make students wait?)
“Hindi maaring pabayaan kayo. Iginagapang ng mga magulang ninyo ang inyong edukasyon. Nasa ibang bansa sila, naghihirap, para mapag-aral kayong mga anak nila. Dugo at pawis ang binubuwis ng manggagawa makapag-aral lamang kayong mga bata. Ang mga magulang ninyong magsasaka, mangigisda, at karaniwang kawani — sila lahat ay nangangarap ng magandang kinabukasan para sa inyo,” she said
(We cannot not leave you behind. Your parents toil for your education. They are in other countries to work so they can send you to school. Workers release blood and sweat just so you can study. Your parents who are farmers, fisherfolks, and ordinary workers—they are the ones dreaming of a good future for you.)
The school year opening was initially scheduled on August 24 but this was moved to October 5 in consideration of the modified enhanced community quarantine imposed earlier in Metro Manila, Rizal, Bulacan, Cavite, and Laguna. Private schools, however, were allowed to start classes ahead of the rescheduled date.
According to Briones, DepEd has so far recorded over 24.7 million students who have enrolled for this school year, which represent 89 percent of last year’s 27.85 million registered students.
She recalled a message she made before the United Nations two years before the COVID-19 pandemic, where she said: “Whatever is happening in the country, whatever challenges we are facing, education must continue. Education cannot wait, our learners cannot wait. We continue with the process so we can give hope and continuity, and contribute to the normalization of activities in the country.”
Briones also said the Philippines is claiming “victory” against COVID-19 as it opens the school year amid the pandemic.
“We declare our victory over COVID 19–the Destroyer of our lives and Destroyer of our economy and of our society. But we will not allow COVID-19 to destroy our children’s education and their future,” she said.
“Today, we open our schools. Today, we claim victory over the destroyer (COVID 19). Let our classes begin!” the DepEd Secretary added.
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