Youth group pushes academic freeze, says PH not yet ready for Oct. 5 school opening

A youth group pushed for an academic freeze Wednesday as public schools prepare for the nationwide resumption of classes Oct. 5.

The Samahan ng Progresibong Kabataan (SPARK), in a statement, urged the Department of Education to admit that the country is not yet prepared to open the school year amid the challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“SPARK reiterates students’ immediate demands for an academic freeze until January 2021 alongside continuing social aid for teachers, students, and employees as an important step to prevent further irreparable damage to the accessibility and quality of education for today’s youth alongside the glaring digital divide made more evident by the economic recession,” the group said.

The group issued this statement following the budget hearing session for the DepEd on Tuesday at the House of Representatives. “Rather than proving to us that the agency truly is prepared for class opening on Oct. 5, this session has only proven how utterly unprepared the department and the country at large is for the much touted ‘new normal’ for education,” SPARK said.

For SPARK, the budget hearing for DepEd revealed more than an “overall gross” lack of preparation and internal inefficiency in crucial data gathering for a proper assessment of actual readiness for school opening.

“The hearing revealed more fundamentally the department’s utter disinterest in investigating actual conditions on the ground for teachers, students, parents, and employees -- as well as its willingness to continue its half baked plans at all costs just to appease capitalist-educators even at our expense,” SPARK said.

SPARK also noted that the educational agencies such as DepEd have “long ignored our desperate cries for help, even as it has reaped at least four completely avoidable deaths among the ranks of our fellow youth and students.”

Given this, the group believes that the only option left is for President Duterte himself to sign an executive order implementing students’ demands for an academic freeze and social aid measures for all affected sectors.