Group calls for ‘urgent,’ long term solutions for marginalized learners

If this school year is already challenging for the students in the formal system, how much more for those who belong to marginalized sectors?

As the country continues to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic, E-Net Philippines, a network of 130 organizations and partners, said that “urgent” and long term solutions must be adopted to address the financial, technical, and legislative challenges in the education sector especially for disadvantaged learners.  

To ensure that learners—such as out-of-school children, youth and adult, learners with disabilities (LWDs), indigenous learners, Muslim children, and those in last mile schools—will not be left behind when classes start on Oct. 5., E-Net is calling on the government and other concerned groups to “improve the systems and mechanisms” to increase the number of enrollment.

As the country shifts into distance/blended learning this year, E-Net stressed the need to “ensure access to internet, provisions of gadgets, mobile phone loads, printed modules, and assistive technology for those with disability.”

Aside from ensuring a safe back-to-school, the network is also calling for a provision for financial support for teachers. Likewise, E-Net noted the need to “cease the mass laying off of provisional teachers and absorb retrenched teachers from private schools by the DepEd to make up for the lack of teachers” in implementing blended learning, Alternative Learning System (ALS), and Indigenous People Education.

E-Net is also proposing the hiring of trained ALS community facilitators as para-teachers to assist parents in the home-based modular learning modality; restoring realigned budgets in learning materials for marginalized learners; ensuring equity-based education financing; and expediting the legislation of bills that ensure the right of education of marginalized sectors.

Based on the latest enrollment data from the DepEd, there are 24.72 million students currently enrolled in both public and private schools, including non-graded LWDs and those under the ALS program.

With 27.7 million enrollment in SY 2019-2020, E-Net noted that there are more than three million students who have yet to enroll for this school year. “We believe that the government must exert all efforts into accommodating these unenrolled students into the system to ensure that no one is left behind,” the network added.