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DepEd moves the opening of classes to Oct. 5, but some students call for #AcademicFreeze on Twitter

Filipino students on Twitter say that the postponement of classes is not enough

In a virtual press briefing on Friday, Aug. 14, Education Sec. Leonor Briones announced that the opening of the school year had been moved from Aug. 24 to Oct. 5. Pres. Rodrigo Duterte has implemented the decision pursuant to the recommendation of the Department of Education (DepEd).

The announcement comes on the heels of the DepEd TV test broadcast on Aug. 11 that went viral online for its grammatical and typographical errors. With in-person and face-to-face learning unavailable due to the Covid-19 pandemic, DepEd instructed public schools to use modular, online, television, and radio-based instruction.

On Twitter, the official DepEd account says, “We shall use the deferment to provide relief to the logistical limitation faced by the areas placed under MECQ and to fill in the remaining gaps of the school opening that we are currently addressing.” They also encourage areas outside of MECQ to continue their orientations, dry runs, and delivery of online learning sources before the new starting date on Oct. 5.

Elsewhere on Twitter, Filipino students reacted to the announcement with a call for an academic freeze instead, the hashtag now trending in the Philippines.

What is trending on Twitter as of 4:20 p.m. on Aug. 14.

What is an academic freeze?

In June, John Lazaro of the youth group Samahan ng Progresibong Kabataan (SPARK), told The Manila Bulletin, “When we say academic freeze, it means that there should be no classes at all—whether online or offline—and that the children should just stay at home and look for other means to learn outside formal schooling.”

The online call on Twitter often includes the phrase or hashtag #NoStudentLeftBehind. On July 1, DepEd projected an 80 percent enrolment turnout, acknowledging that not all guardians could enroll their children due to the effects of the pandemic.

DepEd hit its 80 percent projection after extending the enrolment period. But one Twitter user suggests that “students are only enrolling for the sake of not being left behind,” telling Manila Bulletin Lifestyle that some school mates have decided to skip the upcoming semester all together due in part to financial matters, as well as not being comfortable with the online set-up.

Those who are able to express themselves on Twitter have access to a gadget and Internet, although whether it is stable or not is a different story.

“I’m so proud [of] those students who are also in favor of #academicfreeze despite having a stable Internet connection and the complete needs for online classes,” writes Carla on Twitter. “They all know that not everyone has the same good situation as them. Thank you for considering our struggles.”

Currently a third-year college student, Carla’s education is under the Commission of Higher Education (CHED) and thus the DepEd postponement does not affect her. She expresses to Manila Bulletin Lifestyle that the online learning experience has been a struggle due to unreliable Internet access.

“I am currently attending online classes and so far it’s been very complicated,” the student says. “I barely get to attend every meeting, but I’m trying my best. I am still hoping for an academic freeze.”

Is it really all or nothing?

Other students on Twitter, however, suggest that an academic freeze does not take into account how it will affect the livelihood and employment of others. One Twitter user, an incoming freshman at the University of the Philippines Los BaƱos (UPLB), provides another perspective, asking people to consider teachers who may be unemployed or even the students who are hoping to graduate soon so that they can provide for their family.

Paano na rin yung mga batang gustong mag-aral? Dahil sa sistema nating pahirap, kailangan nilang makapagtapos agad ng pag-aaral para makapagtrabaho na’t kumita ng pera. Paano na sila? (What about the students who want to study? Because of how difficult our system is, some need to graduate immediately so they can get a job and earn money. What about them?)”

So ano rapat ang ating panawagan? Dahil kailangan nating isaalang-alang ang lahat ng sektor at siguruhing gagalaw ang gobyero: ligtas, de-kalidad, demokratiko, at abot-kayang edukasyon ang marapat na ipaglaban. (So what is our call? Since we need to consider all sectors and ensure that the government takes action: safe, quality, democratic, and affordable education is worth fighting for.)”

The Twitter thread ends with a too long, didn’t read (TL;DR) summary: “Hindi panlahat at prone sa pagpapabaya ng gobyerno ang #AcademicFreeze (#AcademicFreeze is not for everyone and is prone to government neglect).”

Source: Manila Bulletin (

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