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Digital education platform launched in the Philippines

As government agencies continue to wade through the ‘new normal’ in delivering public service amid the COVID-19 pandemic, many projects have been launched in line with initiatives to accelerate towards digital transformation. The Department of Education (DepEd) announced in a statement that it has recently held the online launch of DepEd Teaches, a new programme that will streamline operations in the department. 

Under this programme, a series of episodes tackling various issues in the education sector and distance learning procedures shall be uploaded to the DepEd’s Facebook page. The first topics to be discussed at length are learning delivery modes and classroom assessment techniques. Access to learning resources shall also be tackled. Succeeding episodes of the DepEd series shall be available starting January 2021. 

Strengthening distance learning techniques 

The new online platform is designed to assist and inform teachers and school managers about best practices in distance learning. The department explained that this programme will also address challenges related to teaching and learning during the new normal. 

One of these issues is misinformation and queries regarding curriculum and teaching instructions. Assessment concerns are also one of the challenges that DepEd Teaches aims to address. 

DepEd’s Assistant Secretary for Curriculum and Instruction Alma Ruby Torio clarified in the same media release that government officials are expected to contribute to the sharing of best practices in a bid to improve existing education services. These officials include bureau chiefs, regional directors and division superintendents of schools. 

The Assistant Secretary added that this initiative will help fill in information gaps during the pandemic. She explained: “As we live in the digital age, we need to rely on valid information every hour of every day, thus the need to invest to upgrade our skills.” 

A School Division Superintendent of Ilocos Sur expressed the same sentiment, stating that empowering teachers is key to improving education, as these mentors will be “more inspired to work hard for the sake of learners, for the future.” 

Education Secretary Leonor Briones recently said that the delivery of education services during the pandemic to over 25 million students under the department’s stead is a challenge that calls for the implementation of innovative distance learning techniques. To be able to deliver education while ensuring the health and safety of students and teachers, the DepEd rolled out its Basic Education Learning Continuity Plan or the BE-LCP. 

The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) approved the implementation of the BE-LCP last year. Under this framework, the DepEd undertook to adopt alternative learning delivery options including blending learning and homeschooling in a bid to comply with minimum health and safety standards. Physical or face-to-face activities like science fairs and school sports events were ordered cancelled except those events that were to be held online. 

During the department’s virtual Thanksgiving and General Assembly, the DepEd Secretary highlighted the need to transform education in the country in response to what she referred to as a “changing world”. 

She added: “ [T]he change has already started. We already recognise the signals, we see the increased role of technology and science. We see the need to encourage not only our teachers but our learners to not only specialise and memorise; but to know how to analyse and come up with a solution.” 

The DepEd joins a host of government agencies that have shifted to digitalisation to boost operations. As earlier cited in a report by OpenGov Asia, one of these agencies is the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS). The state pension fund announced that it is re-establishing its Annual Pensioners Information Revalidation (APIR) programme and implementing it through online channels. Under this system, pensioners can update their personal information and revalidate these data via virtual means. 

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