As the calendar flips to a new school year, the Department of Education (DepEd) gears up to welcome over 22.6 million students for the School Year (SY) 2023-2024. After a period of disruption due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the education landscape is gradually returning to normalcy, with the resumption of full face-to-face sessions on the first day of classes, marking a significant milestone for the nation’s educational institutions.

Bridging the Gap Between Classrooms and Students

Vice President and Education Secretary, Sara Duterte, is set to inaugurate the new academic session by visiting schools in Cebu. Her presence underlines the government’s commitment to ensuring a smooth return to traditional classroom settings, symbolizing the country’s resilience and collective efforts in navigating the challenges posed by the pandemic.

Data from the Learner Information System (LIS) Quick Count reveals a total enrollment of 22,676,964 students in both public and private schools, including State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) and Local Universities and Colleges (LUCs). Among the regions, Region IV-A leads with 3,465,598 enrollees, followed by Region III with 2,586,926, and the notable National Capital Region (NCR) with 2,480,970.

While the official enrollment period concluded on August 26, DepEd remains open to late enrollees, acknowledging the norm of students joining classes in the days following the commencement of the academic year.

Creating Delightful Learning Environments

DepEd’s Assistant Secretary and Deputy Spokesperson, Francis Cesar Bringas, emphasizes the importance of making the first day of classes (Going back to school 2023) delightful for learners. This year’s back-to-school preparations have been marked by a unique directive to remove “unnecessary” decorations from classrooms. The initiative, which calls for “clean and functional” spaces, aims to minimize distractions and promote focused learning.

Although this decision has garnered both support and skepticism, DepEd maintains that a cleaner, more organized environment will aid students in concentrating on their studies and facilitate more effective learning.

Navigating Potential Disruptions

As students eagerly return to classrooms, the country remains vigilant against natural disruptions. The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) warns of potential typhoons and other weather disturbances, which could necessitate the suspension of classes. DepEd’s guidelines stipulate automatic cancellations or suspensions of in-person and online classes during typhoons, heavy rainfall, floods, earthquakes, and power outages.

Addressing Resource Shortages

A long-standing challenge in the Philippine education system pertains to resource shortages. The deficit in classrooms, teachers, learning materials, and facilities has persisted over the years, affecting the quality of education offered. DepEd acknowledges that while strides have been made, there remains a backlog of unaddressed issues from previous years.

The shortage of classrooms is a pressing concern, with a deficit of 159,000 reported during a meeting with the Senate Committee on Basic Education. The challenge is exacerbated by factors like increased enrollment and emerging needs. Schools have resorted to various strategies, such as shifting schedules, to accommodate students despite the constraints.

A Glimpse of the Future: Technology-Based Learning

DepEd recognizes the need for innovative solutions to these challenges. The institution of technology-based learning, including digital learning, is gaining traction as a means to augment traditional classroom settings. The push for digital learning comes as a response to changing educational paradigms accelerated by the pandemic. By integrating technology into education, DepEd aims to enhance the accessibility and quality of learning, reducing the reliance on physical infrastructure.

Ten Tips for Students to Excel in Going Back to School 2023

Stay Organized: Use planners, calendars, or digital tools to keep track of assignments, exams, and deadlines.

Manage Time Wisely: Create a study schedule that balances academic tasks, extracurricular activities, and personal time.

Engage Actively: Participate in class discussions, ask questions, and seek clarification when needed.

Seek Help: Don’t hesitate to approach teachers, peers, or tutors if you’re struggling with a subject or concept.

Take Effective Notes: Develop a note-taking strategy that works for you, whether it’s handwritten or digital.

Practice Regularly: Consistent practice is key to mastering subjects, so set aside time for homework and revision.

Embrace Technology: Leverage educational apps, online resources, and digital tools to enhance your learning experience.

Stay Curious: Cultivate a love for learning by exploring topics beyond the curriculum and asking thought-provoking questions.

Stay Healthy: Prioritize a balanced diet, regular exercise, and sufficient sleep to maintain your physical and mental well-being.

Stay Positive: Believe in your abilities, stay motivated, and maintain a growth mindset to overcome challenges and achieve your goals.

In an evolving educational landscape, students and educators alike are adapting to new norms and exploring innovative methods to enrich learning experiences in going back to school 2023. As the country’s educational institutions move forward, the commitment to nurturing young minds and providing quality education remains unwavering.