President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday called the opening of school year 2020-2021 a “momentous occasion” and commended those responsible for letting education push through amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The school opening of this year is a momentous occasion because it is pushing through despite a global health crisis due to Covid-19. Indeed, nothing can get in the way of the instruction and formation of our learners,” Duterte said in a pre-recorded message.

Classes were supposed to begin last Aug. 24 but the government decided to defer the school year opening to further prepare, address “logistical limitations” and “fill in the remaining gaps.”

Duterte said that while the shift to distance and online learning has been a “challenging frontier” for students, teachers and parents, it ushered in a “new era” in the country’s education program.

“May this school year be marked with strong hopes and optimism that effective learning will take place rather, even amidst the odds and challenges. Together, let us work to achieve a more informed and enlightened, inspired citizenry, starting with our children,” he said.

More than 24.7 million learners have enrolled in public and private schools nationwide.

‘Victory over Covid-19’.

Education Secretary Leonor Briones claimed that the country had won its battle against the Covid-19 pandemic as she formally opened the new academic year during the Department of Education’s National School Opening Day Program.

“Today, Oct. 5, 2020, we open our schools. Today, we claim victory over the destroyer, Covid-19,” she said in her speech.

Briones said the government “will not allow Covid-19 to destroy our children’s education and their future.”

“Araw-araw may bagong krisis, bagong problema, at bagong pagkukulang. Paghihintayin ba namin kayong mga mag-aaral, more than 24 million of you? Hindi maaaring pababayaan kayo mag-aaral,” she said. John Ezekiel J. Hirro