As public school classes opened on Monday, Sept. 13, Education Secretary Leonor Briones said the Philippines was successful in achieving the milestone of launching two school years amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Today, Sept. 13, 2021, the DepEd (Department of Education) and the rest of the country celebrate with great joy in success in opening classes for the second year at the time of Covid-19,” she said during the National School Opening Day program of the DepEd.

“As expected, criticism poured in and failures were pointed out. These are part of the process in the journey to victory and success. A famous personality has commented that ‘if you have no critics, you’ll likely have no success,’” she added.

She said the fact that the country successfully opened and ended the previous school year was commendable.

“We opened classes last year. We successfully ended them. Now we are opening another school year. Isn’t that success worthy of celebration?” she said.

The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) refuted Briones’ statement, saying there was nothing to celebrate.

“What’s there to celebrate? Another school year of school closure, making the Philippines one of the last in the world to re-open schools amid the pandemic? The lack of gadgets and ample internet support to teachers and students? The still insufficient modules? The millions of children who are yet to enroll?” ACT Secretary General Raymond Basilio said in a statement.

The Philippines is one of the only two countries worldwide that have yet to resume in-person classes amid the pandemic.

Basilio expressed doubt that the Philippines would address the challenges hounding its education sector “when the DepEd Secretary already wants to celebrate mediocrity.”

“Stop patting yourselves on the back for doing the bare minimum of re-opening classes while failing to address major issues in education. These have major consequences to education access and quality, which you continue to ignore,” he said.

“We are in no mood to celebrate…What we need from you and what you are mandated to do is to resolve these glaring problems in education, and represent our interests by pressing the Duterte government to sufficiently respond to the needs of the sector,” he added.

As of Sept. 13, 24,603,822 students have enrolled nationwide. John Ezekiel J. Hirro