EDUCATION authorities on Monday said the agency was ready to start classes on Aug. 24 despite criticisms about the viability of online learning amid a coronavirus pandemic.

Education Secretary Leonor M. Briones dismissed calls to put off basic education classes this year, which she said could negatively affect students.

The Philippines is also one of the two remaining countries — Cambodia is the other one — that have yet to open classes this year, she told an online news briefing.

Technical glitches marred the launch of the Education department’s school readiness program on Monday, according to ABS-CBN News.

The agency was supposed to showcase the different learning strategies that it will enforce starting this month, including radio, television, and learning modules.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte earlier said he would not allow face-to-face classes until a vaccine for the coronavirus is found.

The Education department earlier said 18.2 million students had enrolled for this year, 17.4 million of whom were public school students. Enrollment ended on July 15.

Education officials earlier said less than half of the country’s 800,000 public school teachers had been trained for distance learning amid a coronavirus pandemic, leading senators to question the school system’s readiness to start online classes this month.

Some senators also criticized the agency for failing to map out areas where different learning methods would be used. — Gillian M. Cortez