Group calls for inclusive, quality education

In celebration of the International Literacy Day (ILD), a civil society group on Tuesday urged the government to ensure that literacy programs are accessible in the New Normal - especially for the learners in the disadvantaged and marginalized groups.  

E-Net Philippines, a network of 130 organizations and partners in the Philippines, is urging the national government and concerned agencies to fulfill their commitment in providing inclusive, equitable, safe and quality education in which “literacy programs are thoughtfully embedded.”

Sept. 8 has been declared by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as the ILD since 1967 to remind the public of the importance of literacy as a matter of dignity and human rights.

With theme, “Literacy teaching and learning in the COVID-19 crisis and beyond: The role of educators and changing pedagogies,” E-Net also called on all Filipinos to advocate for “creative, alternative solutions to learning, and reforms and improvements in the education sector.”

More than ever, E-Net underscores the need for inclusive, equitable, safe, quality education for all students. “This pandemic has certainly disrupted society’s normal functions, and is disproportionately affecting marginalized sectors and the learners,” the group said.

As the pandemic exposed the “weaknesses and limitations of the current literacy system,” E-Net said that is “high time to revisit its strategic goals of providing inclusive, equitable and quality education so as to ensure that ‘no one is left behind’ in education.”

The group noted that it is also the “opportune time” to review the appropriate theories and practices of literacy teaching and learning. “By investing in public education, we would influence the development of learners to become more productive and responsible citizens; and yield a high rate of return to our society towards building a better, new normal,” it added.

In particular, E-Net recommends the need to invest in a National Literacy Program for people of all ages - youth and adult - in all life contexts (home, school, workplace, community, etc.) and through formal, non-formal and informal modalities, prioritizing the marginalized, excluded and vulnerable sectors (MEVS).

The group is also calling for the review the appropriate literacy teaching and learning pedagogies appropriate during and post-pandemic and to “expand learning outcomes to include competencies and skills that go beyond basic reading and math, and reflect the local values, needs and expectations for education.”

E-Net is also urging the government to improve teachers’ working conditions and provide them with ongoing professional support and training both locally and centrally, so that they can effectively lead learner-centered learning; this includes continuing capability-building of teachers on child rights, child protection systems, positive discipline, and case management.

Moreover, the group wants to ensure a Safe Learning Environment where child/human rights and positive discipline are promoted and upheld, and both learners and education frontliners are safe from the effects of pandemics and calamities and to expedite legislation that ensure the right of education of marginalized sectors.