By Hannah L. Torregoza
Noting how the “new normal” has expanded the role of parents and guardians in the country’s basic education system, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian has sought increased government support for them as they take on the challenge of assisting learners amid the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In filing Senate Bill No. 1565, the proposed Education in the New Normal Act, Gatchalian seeks the establishment of a mechanism where parents and guardians can carry out an effective and consistent structure or system of learning at home with the help of teachers.
The bill primarily allows parents to implement reasonable rules on the safe and healthy use of platforms and devices for learning such as television, radio, tablets, cellphones, computers, and other information and communications (ICT) equipment.
The measure also seeks to assist parents and guardians in teaching their children healthy habits of reading books and other printed materials to offset the amount of online learning and ensure a digital recess.
The bill also seeks to assign tasks that parents and guardians will share with teachers as they monitor learners’ academic performance and progress.
“Ang mga magulang at guardian ng ating mag-aaral ay katuwang ng ating mga guro sa pagpapatuloy ng edukasyon ng ating mga kabataan, lalo na sa kalagitnaan ng kasalukuyang pandemya (the parents and guardians of our students will serve as our teachers’ helpers in continuing the education of our youth, especially in the middle of the current pandemic),” said Gatchalian, chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts, and Culture.
“Ngayong ‘new normal’ na edukasyon, kailangang lubos na maunawaan at mapaghandaan ng mga magulang ang kanilang pinalawak na papel upang lubos nilang magabayan ang kanilang mga anak (As we enter ‘new normal’ education, parents should be able to fully understand and prepare for their increased role in guiding their children as they study),” the senator said.
Under the bill, schools will be tasked to use the Parent-Teacher Associations (PTAs) as a venue where they can ensure constant open communication involving parents, guardians, and other family members in the learners’ daily activities.
The PTAs will also be venues of consultations, clarification, and orientation on the role of families in learners’ education.
Gatchalian said the bill seeks to adopt a whole-of-community approach to facilitate collaborative action and foster the involvement of every sector—especially the parents—for an integrated transition to the ‘new normal’ in education.
Likewise, the measure encourages strong family engagement to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the country’s education system and enable a coordinated transition to recovery.
“We are living in unprecedented times—under a new normal that demands that we act with dispatch,” Gatchalian said in the explanatory note of the bill.
“The swift passage of this bill is thus earnestly sought in order for this august body to immediately respond to the educational crisis and put the education system back on its tracks in due time, and leave no one behind,” the senator said.