ALMOST one year since the suspension of classes at all levels due to the 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, Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan 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.”
“We owe it to our students, their parents, school faculty and staff, to be able to provide a safe environment to resume classes. We can only do that if we have the experience — kung alam na natin kung ano ang epektibo, dapat, at ligtas na gawin, at kung paano ito gagawin,” 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.
”Dahil ngayong blended learning ang mga bata ay hindi gaanong makapag-focus sa pag-aaral gawa ng minsan mahina ang signal ng mga data o wifi sa kanila kaya ang mga bata hindi nakakapasok. At sa hina ng signal hindi naiintindihan ng mga bata kung ano ang tinuturo ng guro nila. Minsan ang guro nawawalan din ng signal,” Pangilinan said quoting Catherine of Bagong Silang, Caloocan.
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.
“Dalawang taon na po halos ang kailangang habulin ng ating mga paaralan at mga mag-aaral. At bawat pagpapatagal natin sa pagbubukas ng klase ay mas dumadagdag pa ito,” said Pangilinan.
“Hindi pa po riyan natatapos, dahil meron pa raw mga long-term effects. Malaki ang posibilidad ng pagdami ng mga ‘drop-outs’, nababawasan ang kagustuhang matuto, nababawasan daw ang mga ‘foundational skills’ na mahirap iregain at reintegrate sa loob ng education system,” he said, quoting the Philippine Pediatric Society.
“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,” 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”, said Pangilnan.
Pangilinan is co-sponsor of proposed Senate Resolution 668 on the Immediate launch of Pilot Testing of Localized Limited Face-to-face Classes in 1,065 Public Schools.
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.
“Wag na po sana nating idagdag ang krisis sa edukasyon sa marami nang krisis na hinaharap ng ating bansa ngayong pandemya. Umaksyon na agad tayo,” Pangilinan said.