A child rights group on Wednesday urged teachers to conduct outreach calls to students ahead of the resumption of classes in October to help them adjust to the new learning set-up this school year.
Save the Children Philippines (SCP) said that reaching out to the students amid the pandemic is “very critical” to the children’s well-being especially if they will be learning in an entirely new set-up.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, distance or blended learning will be a major component in education delivery for School Year (SY) 2020-2021. Given this, the SCP said that it is crucial for teachers to help students prepare as they learn at home.
SCP Chief Executive Officer Atty. Alberto Muyot said teachers - along with parents and communities - are “critical to the fulfillment of children’s rights to access inclusive and adaptive education in the time of COVID-19.”
Muyot, a former DepEd Undersecretary, said that aside from health and survival risks, “children face the devastating and long-term impacts of the pandemic because it limited their mobility and prevented many of them from personally interacting with friends and schoolmates as they miss out on their classes.”
Outreach calls are part of the mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) being provided by teachers to learners who face anxiety, fear, and uncertainties, especially in this time of pandemic, in order to encourage them as well to be motivated to continue learning even from home.
For SCP Child Protection Manager Jerly Villanada, outreach calls are beneficial in many ways.
“It gives teachers the chance to check-in with their students without being intrusive,” she said. “Outreach calls also provide an opportunity for children and families to be able to speak with a trusted adult professional to discuss important family matters."
Villanada explained that outreach calls also allow teachers to develop empathy by listening to children. They can also focus on the child’s health and well-being instead of homework, and offer help on access to essential protection or health services.
“It would not take more than 15 minutes for teachers to converse with their students as children may find it hard to concentrate on the phone for longer periods of time,” Villanada said. “But those 15-minute outreach calls are very important and may actually save lives,” she added.
As part of the humanitarian response, the child rights organization also trains teachers, social workers, and community health officers to provide psychosocial first aid to children during natural disasters and other emergencies.
The SCP has been working with the DepEd and the Australian government to improve teacher professional development under the Sustaining Education Reforms Gain (SERG) project.
The program focuses on increasing the quality of teaching to achieve better learning outcomes.
“We continue to partner with teachers to allow them to support the fulfillment of children’s rights to education, and to ensure that they are also equipped in the new normal for we know that it takes a village to raise a child,” Muyot ended.