DepEd-Bicol addresses learning losses among school children

By Bobby Q. Labalan


Sorsogon City- Alarmed by the learning loss among school pupils in the Region, the Department of Education-Bicol (DepEd-Bicol) has crafted a plan to address the plight of the learners impacted by the on-going COVID-19 pandemic in the country.


In a press conference held Monday at the DepEd Regional Office, Gilbert Sadsad, DepEd-Bicol Regional Director, said the Learning Recovery Plan (LRP) was drawn to tackle the learning deficiency among school pupils as a result of distance learning for the past two school years.


Joan Lagata, the Education Program Supervisor under the Curriculum and learning Management Division(CLMD) who presented the plan dubbed “Recovering for Academic Achievement by Improving Instruction thru Sustainable Evidenced-based Learning (RAISE), said the LRP is a comprehensive step aimed at enhancing the learning process of school children especially on the three major areas: reading, writing and arithmetic.


The plan will primarily focus on grades 1 to 3 which are considered as the most affected by the pandemic among grade levels in terms of learning process but will cover other grade levels later on, Lagata said.


She stressed that based on the “World Bank report in 2021, the global rate of “Learning Poverty “—defined as the percentage of children who are unable to read and understand a simple text by the age of 10—increased from about 53% to approximately 63% since the start of the pandemic”.


Another study showed that a school child incurs about 40% learning loss every school year that he fails to attend face-to-face classes, Lagata added.


She pointed out that it would be a grave situation for the school children if the education department would not act promptly to arrest the decline in the learning process.


It would be recalled that the face-to-face classes were immediately suspended when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the country in early 2020. The DepEd later on introduced the use of modular learning even as the COVID raged late that same year. However, the system hit a snag when school authorities complained about the hefty printing cost while parents whined about the enormous task of guiding their children in studying.


To remedy the situation, DepEd Regional Office modified the modular system and introduced the use of Learning Activity Sheets (LAS) which was shorter but more comprehensive and later on initiated the use of broadcast media, both television and radio, Lagata explained.


At present, the education department has allowed the partial face-to-face classes in some schools as part of the blended learning though LAS is still being used, she added.


Lagata, however, said that despite those efforts, there are still substantial learning losses among school children caused by the absence of full-time face-to-face classes.


Based on the Deped-Bicol timeline, the LRP will be implemented from School Year 2023 up to 2025 even as their Office is now in full-swing conducting training-workshops among supervisors and teachers as part of the preparation for the implementation.


Among the priority areas are the curriculum instruction and assessment, academic support, teacher development and budget support.


At present, DepEd Regional Office has already initiated projects in line with the LRP which include analysis, interpretation and utilization of literacy data based on the Comprehensive Rapid Literacy Assessment (CRLA); refinement, utilization, and data analysis in numeracy of the Electronic Numeracy Assessment Test (e-NAT). There is also an on-going development of 8-week contextualized curriculum in Mother Tongue, Filipino, English and Mathematics; together with the development and utilization of integrative intervention materials for learners, with specific difficulties in reading and numeracy, and the development and utilization of assessment tools, that monitor the progress of Grades 1-3 learners. In the coming months, the Office will also look into the conduct of learning and development programs for literacy and numeracy instruction to Grades 1 to 3 teachers and school heads, and will continue to prioritize the downloading of support funds for programs, projects and activities along literacy and numeracy.


The Bicol LRP is the first-of-its-kind nationwide and is serving as model for other regions including the National Capital Region, Director Sadsad announced, adding that observers from DepEd-NCR and Central Office attended the program launching held last May 2 at Santa Magdalena town in Sorsogon province.


In behalf of the DepEd-Bicol, Lagata expressed deep gratitude to the ABC +, a special education project of the United States government under the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) for providing them with consultants who helped in the crafting of the LRP as well as in the training of the implementers.


Meanwhile, DepEd-Bicol also reported a steady increase in completers and graduates in secondary level the past three school years despite the COVID-19 pandemic.


In his report, Roy Bañas, chief of the Policy, Planning and Research Division (PPRD) of DepEd-Bicol, said that in school year 2019-2020 there were 119,091 Grade 10 completers, 137,236 in 2020-2021 and 155,123 in 2021-2022.


Meanwhile, there were 95,706 high school graduates in 2019-2020, 102,356 in 2020-2021 and 118,048 graduates in school year 2021-2022.


However, the same is not true for elementary level where the numbers fluctuated in school year 2020-2021.


Based on Bañas’ report the Grade 6 graduates in school year 2019-2020 reached 140,763 but went down to 134,137 the following school year and recorded a negligible increase in school year 2021-2022 at 134,481.


The DepEd-Bicol is eyeing a total enrollment for the coming school year of 1,856,832 from kindergarten to senior high school, Bañas said.