Opposition Senator Francis “Kiko” N. Pangilinan on Thursday urged the Department of Education (DepEd) to make available more financial aid and other assistance to both students and teachers as the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic caused enrollment to drop this school year.
Pangilinan, president of the Liberal Party (LP), said local government units (LGUs), through their Special Education Fund (SEF), should offer a wide range of support such as scholarships for their constituents who want to study under the new normal setup.
He also urged the public to donate smartphones, tablets, laptops, and desktop computers to Vice President Leni Robredo’s campaign to assist in distance learning.
At the same time, Pangilinan also encouraged young people to study agriculture and go into farming and help make the country food-secure, especially during the pandemic.
“Ang edukasyon ay para sa lahat. Pero dahil sa maraming nawalan ng trabaho, milyon na ang nag-d-drop out sa pag-aaral. Para makapag-aral pa ang mas marami ngayong pandemya, tulungan nating itawid ang mga mag-aaral at titser nating walang mga device na maaaring magamit para sa blended learning sa darating na pasukan,” he said. (Education is for everybody. Because many lost their jobs. Millions have dropped out of schools. So that many might go to school during the current pandemic, help for the students and teachers are needed through electronic devices that they could use this coming school year.)
Pangilinan said donations, might be coursed through the Vice President’s FB page here: https://www.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=2930340530416929&id=283945495056459, where she also requested for battery chargers that came with the device.
Earlier, Pangilinan has recommended that the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) ensure Internet connection for distance learning.
As of 8 a.m. July 9, enrollment deadline, enrollment at public schools was 19.14 million (or 84.8 percent of last year’s total) and at private schools, 1.5 million (or 24.3 percent of last year’s), according to the Department of Education (DepEd).
Total public and private school enrollment of 20.22 million was just 72.7 percent of the 2019-2020 enrollment figure, DepEd said.
Pangilinan, a lawyer and educator himself, said this would mean that many private school teachers would be losing their jobs.
He stated that the DepEd should carefully recalibrate its proposed budget for 2021 to cover the needs for online and blended learning that would keep children in their homes while studying amid the health crisis.
When the budget bill reaches the Upper Chamber, he said the Senate would thoroughly assess the proposed appropriations of agencies to see to it that money goes to the most pressing needs such as education.
According to the group Save the Children, the pandemic has caused an “unprecedented education emergency” with up to 9.7 million children worldwide affected by school closures at risk of never going back to class.
With many young people required to work or girls forced into early marriage to support their families, this could see between seven million and 9.7 million children dropping out of school permanently, the group said in a Reuters report.