Students, parents call for resumption of face-to-face classes as SY 2021-2022 opens

Wearing their school uniforms, students of primary and secondary schools together with their parents held a protest action on Monday, Sept. 13, to call for safe and effective education program during the pandemic.

Photo from Salinlahi Alliance for Children's Concerns FB page

The students and parents held a picket protest in front of President Corazon Aquino Elementary School in Quezon City on the first day of classes for School Year (SY) 2021-2022 to highlight the struggles they have been facing as the school year officially opened this week.

The education stakeholders demanded the government to “address the woes haunting the country’s education system” as a result of the government’s “bungled pandemic response” and the “incompetence” of Department of Education (DepEd) to implement safe and effective education program amidst the health crisis.

Incoming first year college student and Salinlahi Youth Marikina Secretary David Austria said the face-to-face classes should be allowed to resume as long as safety measures are in place.

“Gusto na po talaga naming maibalik ang face-to-face classes dahil wala po kaming natutunan sa kasalukuyang programa sa edukasyon ng pamahalaan. (I really want to bring back face-to-face classes because we have not learned anything from the current government education program),” Austria said.

He added there are also many students like him who are having trouble where their parents would get the money for the gadget and load up on the daily online class.

“Kahit po nagsimula na ang klase ay hindi pa rin nga po ako nakakabili ng mga gamit sa eskwela (Even though the class has started, I still can't buy school supplies),” Austria said.

Nanay Jekris, a resident of Quezon City and mother of school-aged children, who participated in participated in the protest action lamented the school year has already started but the national government has failed to provide the much needed school materials and learning resources for students, especially for those coming from poor families.

“Hindi na nga kami magkandaugaga sa pagtatrabaho para lang may pantustos sa araw-araw na gastusin at pagkain, dagdag na alalahanin pa namin kung paano na naman ituturo ang tambak tambak na modules sa aming mga anak. Buti sana kung modules lang. Eh kailangan din naman nila ng internet kasi kadalasan dun ipinapadala ang mga sasagutan. (Aside from having to work hard just to provide for our daily expenses and food, we are even more worried about how to teach the piles of modules to our children. It would be nice if it was just modules they also need the internet because they usually send the answers there),” she said.

Meanwhile, Salinlahi also raised some of the demands to the government in order to deliver a safe, equitable, quality and relevant education to Filipino children.

In a petition issued by Salinlahi, it urged the national government to roll out a clear plan for the immediate safe conduct of limited and voluntary in-classroom learning in zero-case and low-risk areas and provide a roadmap to the eventual safe reopening of schools across the country; allocate higher budget to education to ensure the provision of teaching and learning resources for distance learning as well as health protection and benefits to education workers; and implement genuine academic ease.

Photo from Salinlahi Alliance for Children's Concerns FB page

During the program, Salinlahi Secretary General Eule Rico Bonganay emphasized that DepEd cannot be satisfied with the distance learning program without a clear plan for the reopening of schools.

“Anong klaseng edukasyon ang matatamasa ng mga bata kung ang mga eskwelahan ay patuloy na nakasara? (What kind of education will children enjoy if schools continue to be closed?),” he asked.

Bonganay stressed that there should be changes in the framework and approach that which have been “proven to be flawed.” “Mauulit nang mauulit lamang ang mga problem, dapat may konkretong solusyon at mga hakbang para masiguro ang isang ligtas na balik paaralan (The problems will only recur, there must be concrete solutions and measures to ensure a safe return to school,” he said.

After the program, the group held a petition signing and gather the support of the public to the call for “Ligtas Na Balik Paaralan” campaign.

Salinlahi said that the petition will be filed at the DepEd, Commission on Higher Education, Senate, House of Representatives and other concerned government agencies in the coming weeks.