Advocacy group Philippine Business for Education (PBED) has urged the government to plan for a safe resumption of face-to-face classes to stem the looming learning crisis.
“There should be a plan to safely resume face-to-face classes to address the issue on access and inequality among our learners,” said PBED in a statement.
PBED cited around 3 million students have dropped out last year as they were unable to keep up with online classes.
To promote national growth and competitiveness, PBED said the government should ensure the learning continuity of students.
“A clear and immediate action plan should be in place to stem the looming learning crisis,” the statement added.
It cited the latest international assessments of science, mathematics and reading competencies in previous years also showing an alarming decline in the academic performance of Filipino students.
Meantime, the private sector reaffirmed its support for the training and employment of the youth and K-12 graduates of the school year that concluded amid the pandemic.
“We call on the government to ensure their workforce-readiness through skills training and partnerships with the private sector. Please see below the full statement regarding this issue,” the group said.
PBED cited the March 2021 Jobs Report by the Philippine Statistic Authority (PSA), which showed that as the economy is gradually reopening and more businesses are operating, more people are entering and participating in the workforce.
The PSA report showed that unemployment rate in the country slowed down to 7.1 percent in March this year from 8.8 percent in the previous month despite the lockdown in the National Capital Region Plus, the country’s main economic hub.
The latest jobless rate, equivalent to 3.44 million individuals, is the lowest level since the height of the strictest community quarantine in April last year.
While this is encouraging, PBED cited the need to ensure that recent graduates and young entrants to the workforce do not get crowded out.
“We call on the government to ensure that the students are equipped with the knowledge and skills they need to join the workforce,” said PBED adding that the National Employment Recovery Strategy 2021-2022 currently being developed should make skills training and education a centerpiece of the strategy.
PBED has urged for a collaborative partnerships with the private sector in the areas of work-based training and employability should be enabled and incentivized.
“Now, more than ever, we need to support our youth by guaranteeing their education and boosting their employability in the future that they can look forward to,” the statement concluded.