Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Wednesday urged the Department of Education (DepEd) to ensure that the opening of classes on October 5 will go smoothly despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gatchalian, who chairs the Senate committee on basic education, arts and culture, said the government cannot afford to have an “academic freeze” as this will increase learning losses and inequalities among Filipino students.
With the country deep in recession for the first time in many years, the senator warned the patterns observed in those countries could happen among the Filipino youth if they are denied of learning opportunities.
To date, enrollment data show that more than four million learners are already at risk of becoming out of school children and youth, according to the DepEd.
“Kung susuriin natin ang naging karanasan ng mga bansang dumaan sa matinding krisis, malaking pinsala ang dulot sa kabataan kung hahayaan nating hindi sila mabigyan ng tama at dekalidad na edukasyon (If we look into the experience of other countries that went through a crisis, we will bring about huge damage to our youth if they are not given right and quality education),” Gatchalian said in a statement.
Earlier, President Duterte approved DepEd’s proposal to move the opening of classes from Aug. 24 to October 5, taking into consideration the need to prepare more for the transition to blended learning.
Rescheduling the opening of classes is now allowed under Republic Act No. 11480, which allows the Chief Executive to move or defer the start of school year in the event of a state of emergency or state of calamity.
Gatchalian said the government should provide equal opportunity to all schools and ensure that students would be able to continue their education despite the pandemic.
He said providing all students the opportunity to continue their education amid the COVID-19 crisis will give them a “fighting chance in terms of education and having a better future.”