Senator Nancy Binay on Sunday called on the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases to resolve the clamor for a limited face-to-face classes and other issues hounding the country’s education sector amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Binay said she is frustrated that the government seems to be giving more premium to the tourism and the economic sector than finding solutions to address the education sector’s struggles to keep the youth’s learning continuity during this time of a health crisis.
“Let’s accept that we have to live with this pandemic…But you have heard the IATF. Well, it’s understandable to prioritize the health sector, because that should be number one. But then you hear from them about the need to reopen the economy,” Binay said in an interview over Radio DZRH.
“But we’ve never hear them discuss any plans about the country’s education. It’s also scary, because this generation of Filipinos might fail to catch up, not only in terms of math, science, but also the mental health of this generation,” she pointed out.
Binay said senators are just asking the IATF to consider Congress’ appeal for a very limited face-to-face classes in places where there is zero or very few COVID-19 cases.
The IATF, she said, has to face the fact there are students in far flung areas that do not have access to internet connectivity, and therefore, lessens their chances to participate in online classes.
“We’re not pushing that all schools nationwide be open for limited face-to-face classes; we’re just asking them to first experiment on schools that have zero COVID-19 cases,” she pointed out.
Binay also said there were reports of “academic dishonesty” involving parents who supposedly pay to have their children’s distance learning modules answered, or the parents themselves answering their child’s homework, is going to be problematic for the education sector.
“Since most of the students in our public schools do not have an online type of classroom set up, so many of them really have a hard time answering their learning modules. So it is very important to instill an honest system,” she stressed.
During a Senate hearing last week, Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian, chair of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture, questioned the Department of Education’s (DepEd) supposed study allegedly showing that 99 percent of students nationwide obtained passing grades in the first quarter of the school year.
Both Binay and Gatchalian doubted the DepEd’s report, considering that schools already shifted to distance learning during the first quarter of the school year last year due to the restrictions brought about by the lockdowns.
The DepEd report presented on March 3, Wednesday to the Senate on the performance of Grades 1 to 12 students showed that more than 14.5 million learners obtained passing marks, in contrast to the more than 126,000 that got failing grades.
The senators called for more realistic results as they took note that even DepEd officials doubt the veracity of the data submitted to them by the regional offices.