While the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic made the fulfillment of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) more complex, the Department of Education (DepEd) stressed the greater need for shared responsibility and creation of learning ecosystems to sustain healthy learning environment for learners.
“Education has become, and it is obvious now that it is a shared responsibility,” Education Secretary Leonor Briones said during the celebration of the 6th anniversary of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) last month.
“We call for the involvement of all sectors of society, in addition of course to the Ministries of Education who are leading these efforts,” Briones said. “It is a shared responsibility because we all play a vital role in shaping the lives of our learners,” she added.
DepEd, through its International Cooperation Office, together with the Philippine National Commission for UNESCO (UNACOM) and United Nations Association of the Philippines (UNAP), held virtually the “SDGs amid the Global Pandemic: Solidifying the Blueprint towards Sustainable Living for All.”
The department along with its partner agencies discussed the negative effects of the pandemic in the progress made towards the SDGs.
The activity also called for stronger cooperation of stakeholders to mitigate the impact of the pandemic in education and the realization of the SDGs.
Due to the demand for changes the COVID-19 pandemic has brought around the world, the fulfillment of these SDGs became more complex, thus the call of DepEd and UNESCO for stronger stakeholder support in sustaining healthy learning environment for learners.
“The biggest impact of COVID-19 in the transformative education in the Philippines towards Sustainable Development Goals is in compelling us to look again beyond the confines of physical classrooms,” Undersecretary Nepomuceno Malaluan said.
Malaluan added that learning spaces are habitats for learners where they learn to be adaptive and thrive. “This emphasizes the shared responsibility of the stakeholders in an ecosystem,” he added.
DepEd highlighted the Basic Education- Learning Continuity Plan (BE-LCP) as the program that allowed learning opportunities to all learners during the pandemic. The agency recognized the support of its field offices, LGUs, and its partners in delivering education services to 26.8 million learners for the school year 2021-2022.
“While the education sector has a pervasive role in ensuring that learners acquire and develop multiple literacies and evolving competencies, it is not their sole responsibility,” Malaluan said.
Thus, he noted the importance to acknowledge that the “people and the institutions in the everyday lives of our learners impact them and who they would be when they grow up.”
To date, the 17 SDGs formulated in 2015 are now adopted by 193 countries as their blueprint for sustainable living for all.
UNESCO continues to recognize and support the efforts of the education sector and the Philippine government in attaining all of the SDGs.
For Philippine National Commission for UNESCO Officer-in-Charge Ernesto Abella, the pandemic has added another layer of difficulties and challenges in realizing the SDGs.
“While recognizing unprecedented challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, we also recognize that it has created an opportunity for changes that have a long-term impact,” he said.
“This encompasses the use of information and communication technologies, the digital economy, and local government exercising authority in developing a recovery plan,” Abella added.