Technical problems force DepEd to postpone launch of school 'readiness' program

The Department of Education (DepEd) decided to postpone the virtual launch of the "school readiness program" scheduled at 8:45 on Monday, August 10.

The program was supposed to showcase the different learning modes of the distance learning approach in different regions in the country – online learning, self-learning modules, and learning through TV and radio.

According to the DepEd program released to media, President Rodrigo Duterte was supposed to deliver the keynote speech.

DepEd event

Copy of the program from DepEd

"The technical dry run was okay, but this morning we had problems with the audio and communications. Unfortunately, there was an attempt to still correct it for a few minutes. After some time it became clear it was difficult to resolve," Education Undersecretary Nepomuceno Malaluan told reporters in a virtual press briefing.

The virtual kick off was supposed to be followed by a press conference scheduled at around 12 noon, but due to technical difficulties in the readiness launch, it pushed through earlier.

After 3 hours, the launch of the school readiness program pushed through at 11:43 am hosted by DepEd Soccsksargen.

"Glitches, power interruption, and technical difficulties happened during the national kick-off. In a national event as big as this, we can’t avoid [experiencing] it. We will continue and strive to be back and get up," Undersecretary Anne Sevilla told reporters in a Viber message.

Delay opening of classes

Many have criticized the DepEd's decision to open schools in the middle of a health crisis. (READ: No student left behind? During pandemic, education 'only for those who can afford')

Parents and students pointed out that the coronavirus lockdown affected household finances, and many Filipinos don't even have access to a computer or the internet. The President himself doubted the country's capability to implement distance learning. (READ: Duterte on DepEd's distance learning: 'I don't know if we're ready')

Teachers themselves have been asking the DepEd to delay classes to a later date to give them more time to prepare for the school opening. (READ: 3 weeks into school opening, teachers say they still don't have copies of learning modules)

The DepEd decided to shift to distance learning for the coming school year to comply with the President's directive to schools: postpone face-to-face classes until a coronavirus vaccine becomes available.

The DepEd achieved its target enrollment rate of 80% for the coming school year. According to latest data, some 22.4 million students have registered in public and private schools nationwide for school year 2020-2021, which is only 80% of last year's 27.7 million enrollees.

Private schools have raised concerns over their "alarmingly low" enrolment turnout for the coming school year. As of August 7, a total of 1,508,123 students have so far enrolled in private schools – a little over one-fourth of last year's 4.4 million enrollees.

Despite calls to delay classes, Education Secretary Leonor Briones said that classes would open on August 24 "whatever form it is." –

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.