Almost one year since the suspension of classes at all levels because of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic, the government needs to prepare for mass return to school by pilot-testing face-to-face classes in low-risk areas in the country, opposition Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan on Tuesday said.
In a co-sponsorship speech of Senate Resolution 668 Monday evening, Pangilinan said: “Isang taon na po ang nakakalipas, pero karamihan ng mga problemang hinaharap ng ating education system ay pareho pa rin hanggang ngayon. In fact, mas nadagdagan pa (After one year has passed, the problem in the education sector remains unchanged. If fact, it even increased).”
Senate Resolution 668 calls on government to immediately launch pilot testing of localized limited face-to-face classes in 1,065 Public Schools.
“We owe it to our students, their parents, school faculty and staff, to be able to provide a safe environment to resume classes,” he said.
Intermittent Internet connection, the cost of mobile data adding to daily expenses, and the lack of a proper gadget are some of the problems that comes with the Department of Education’s (DepEd) blended distance learning program.
Prior to the pandemic, the Philippines ranked 70 among 79 high and middle-income countries in a study conducted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Its Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) showed the Philippines ranking last in terms of reading literacy, and second to the last in math and science.
According to the Philippine Pediatric Society, a short-term effect of school closures leads to a “summer slide,” or learning loss during a break. Said disruptions are equal to significant learning loss.
Pediatricians equated it as such: one year of closure is equal to two years loss of learning.
“Sa isang normal na classroom situation daw, 22 percent ang learning gain. Pero sa ilalim ng distance education, there is 78 percent less learning. Nakakaalarma (In a normal classroom situation, there is a 22 percent learning gain, But in distance learning, there is 78 percent less learning. It is very alarming,” he added.
Under the GCQ (general community quarantine) and MGCQ (modified general community quarantine) lockdowns, the government now allows the re-opening of amusement parks, cinemas, and shopping centers at a limited capacity. Minors as young as 10 years may now go out to visit malls and other recreational establishments.
“Sabi sa hearing ang mga massage parlor pwede nang magbukas Pero yung ating mga eskwelahan hindi pa. Nasaan daw ang priorities ‘ika nga. ((During a hearing, massage parlors may now reopen. But our schools remain closed. Where are the priorities?),’’ Pangilnan said.
At a previous hearing on the topic, Pangilinan proposed reducing the number of pilot-test schools from 1,065 to 100 to serve as a basis of standard operating procedures and best practices before nationwide roll-out.