All set for opening of in-person classes

More than 47,000 public schools nationwide are all set for the start of classes on Monday, 22 August amid the lingering threat of the dreaded coronavirus disease, the Department of Education said on Wednesday.

According to the DepEd, there are 47,421 public schools in the country.

“Yes, we’re now ready (for the opening of classes),” Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Z. Duterte told reporters in an interview at the DepEd central office.

Duterte said she doesn’t know just yet which school she would visit on the opening of classes.

“But that’s only here in Luzon (for the opening of classes),” she said.

“So, we’re trying to arrange it with field operations outside of the National Capital Region,” the DepEd chief added.

The Education department earlier said that more than 28 million students are expected to enroll for the school year 2022-2023.

As of 17 August, a total of 21,837,853 students have enrolled for this school year so far.

Of this number, 19,223,796 enrollees were from public schools, 2,531,715 were from private schools, while 72,342 from state universities and colleges and local universities and colleges.

The highest number of enrollees was recorded in Region 4-A with 3,142,716, followed by Region 3 with 2,419,137, and the National Capital Region with 2,330,450.

Overpriced laptops

Meanwhile, the DepEd has asked the Commission on Audit to form a task force that will conduct an investigation on the allegedly overpriced laptops for public school teachers.

“We expect that CoA will be forming its fraud audit team or task force so the fraud audit will continue, and finally we know what really happened here,” DepEd spokesperson Michael Poa told reporters in an interview.

Poa earlier said it is looking at the possibility of replacing the overpriced and outdated laptops procured by the Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management last year on behalf of the DepEd.

According to Poa, the agency will make a “quick fix” on the said laptops so they could be used immediately by the teachers this school year or they would invoke the warranty provision from the supplier or by means of legal remedies.

“We want to digitize our teachers during this pandemic while undergoing remote schooling. So, that’s the purpose of the laptops,” Poa said.

State auditors have flagged down DepEd for purchasing P2.4 billion worth of laptops that resulted in the procurement of fewer units, depriving thousands of teachers of the benefit.

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