Ensuring Learning Continuity in a Resilient Public Education System in the Philippines: Mapping of Standards & Baselining of Current Practices

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This report presents the key findings from the data-gathering activities undertaken by Multiply-Ed to lay down the current state of policy and response, map the standards and baseline the emerging practices in the efforts of the government towards learning continuity and resiliency of the public education system. MultiplY-Ed or X-Ed is a project of the Center for Youth Advocacy and Networking (CYAN) and Government Watch (G-Watch) that aims to set up a youth-led, multi-sectoral, and multi-level monitoring of education in the time of COVID-19.

The public education system of the Philippines has been immensely disrupted by COVID-19. In general, the baseline capacity of the public education system to adapt to the pandemic was low. By and large, DepEd adapted as fast as it could given its baseline state. DepEd released policies and guidelines to ensure learning continuity despite the disruptions.

The streamlining of the learning competencies using the Most Essential Learning Competencies (MELCs) was a crucial part of DepEd’s adjustments. In addition, by developing alternative modalities for learning delivery, mainly through modules, DepEd has ensured that the majority of the learners continue to learn. There was no scarcity in trainings for teachers during the pandemic. DepEd Central Office, division offices, and the private sector provided numerous trainings. However, resources were never enough at the school level. Many principals had to ask help from communities and private donors. Some teachers had to use their own resources. Local governments provided supplemental assistance in the form of equipment and supplies for the reproduction of modules, gadgets and equipment for digital learning, keeping LGU- funded teachers and support to underprivileged students. There has been an enhancement of participation and involvement of the barangay, the communities, and especially the parents in the education of children during the pandemic. Finally, while there are numerous mechanisms for accountability in Philippine education governance at the national down to the school level, including in times of disasters like COVID-19, the question is whether they are working effectively.

While serving as a good reference material to any interested education policy actors, the paper also anchors X-Ed on where and how it will make a difference in the efforts of the public education system to continue learning amid disaster. Based on the result of the standards mapping and baselining and after further consultations within the X-Ed team, the following are the standards or components of public learning continuity efforts where it is most crucial that X-Ed makes a difference:

  1. In pressuring DepEd, the Executive Branch and all concerned authorities to increase the budget allocation for efforts that ensure learning continue amid disasters, which covers the capacity of the public education sector to adapt and use varied learning modalities that are appropriate and effective given emergency circumstances.
  2. In checking the sufficiency and appropriateness of services and programs crucial to the success of learning continuity and learning recovery, such as learning resources (i.e., textbooks, modules, learning manuals), classrooms, digital technology, social assistance (i.e., mental health, counselling, feeding program) and teachers’ training.
  3. In checking compliance to health and safety protocols in schools.
  4. In promoting the effectiveness of the mechanisms for transparency, participation and accountability in education governance, particularly (a) performance assessment mechanisms on the learning continuity efforts and the Senior High School/ K-12 program, (b) the M&E processes in School-Based Management (SBM), (c) access to information, transparency and participatory mechanisms at schools; (d) TPA measures in procurement and budget.
  5. In exploring whether and how local governments should have a bigger role in education governance and/ or at the minimum, proposing recommendations in improving the effectiveness of the local school boards.
  6. In improving the uniformity of quality control processes in the development, use and evaluation of learning resources, as well as the continued assessment of the learning competencies to help ensure that the most essential are taught well and completely.
  7. In improving the coordination, oversight and assessment of teachers’ training, especially those relevant to learning continuity.
  8. In advocating for the review of the processes and standards used in evaluating student learning and competencies.
  9. In helping clarify the actual status of the performance of the public education system when it comes to access to education for all and ensuring that no student is left behind.