CO-SPONSORSHIP SPEECH OF SENATOR FRANCIS “KIKO” PANGILINAN PSR 668 – On the Immediate Launch of Pilot Testing of Localized Limited Face-to-face Classes in 1,065 Public Schools

CO-SPONSORSHIP SPEECH OF SENATOR FRANCIS “KIKO” PANGILINAN

PSR 668 – On the Immediate Launch of Pilot Testing of Localized Limited Face-to-face Classes in 1,065 Public Schools

01 March 2021

 

Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you, Majority Leader.

Good afternoon, distinguished colleagues. 

First, we would like to commend our colleague, Senator Win Gatchalian, for the prompt action on the glaring findings reported to us in the Senate Hearing of the Committee on Basic Education, Arts, and Culture conducted in the last few weeks, and again on his Privilege Speech “The Perennial Crisis of the Education System” delivered shortly after.

We feel the same urgency, as it was reported to us that the Philippines, pre-pandemic, has already been lagging behind in terms of education worldwide. What more now that we are nearing the anniversary, first year anniversary of our nationwide school closures? At this point, the only country in the East Asia and the Pacific Region to remain so. 

We remember some anecdotes shared with us by the education advocacy group, Aral Pilipinas.

Catherine of Bagong Silang, Caloocan said, “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.”

Meanwhile, according to Lliceda of Mandaue City, “Mas OK yung face-to-face na ang klase kasi parang stressed sila sa module pag online. Gusto naman ng mga bata yung face-to-face, mag-ingat lang, [dapat merong] social distancing at naka-face mask, dala ng alcohol para safe at saka yung pag take sa Vitamin C nila.”

Kahit itong representation na ito, ang aking 11-year-old na si Miguel ay nag-di-distance learning at hirap na hirap din kaming mag-adjust maya’t maya. Sabi nga parang kami na rin ang naka-enroll sa distance learning sa stress at pressure ng ating mga anak.

These narratives are echoed in many places around the country, particularly in places with zero active Covid cases where parents are wondering: When will children be allowed to return to school when said children are already allowed to play outside? When there’s news that children will be allowed inside cinemas and shopping centers?

At sabi pa doon sa hearing, ang mga massage parlor, pupuwede na raw magbukas, pero ‘yung ating mga eskwelahan hindi pa. Nasaan daw ang priorities, ika nga?

When a great number of families still have limited access to the Internet and devices that would allow for a seamless transition to blended learning?

Isang taon na po ang nakalilipas, pero karamihan ng mga problemang hinaharap ng ating education system ay pareho pa rin hanggang ngayon. In fact, dahil nga sa closure, mas nadagdagan pa. 

According to the Philippine Pediatric Society, a short-term effect of school closures leads to a “summer slide,” meaning learning loss during a break. Said disruptions are equal to significant learning loss. They 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.

Hindi pa 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 i-regain at reintegrate sa loob ng education system. 

Sa isang normal na classroom situation, 22% ang learning gain. Ngunit sa ilalim ng distance education, there is 78% loss or learning is 78% less.

Nakakaalarma. 

We are obligated by the Constitution and the many international statutes on the rights of the child to provide the best environment where children can safely grow and thrive. We have to listen to the experts in child development. 

We appeal to the government to urgently reconsider the decision to postpone the pilot testing of the limited face-to-face classes. We echo our sentiments last week: We need to be prepared. Before a mass reopening of classes, we need to gain experience-based knowledge on how to effectively and safely reopen our schools.

If government’s concern is that reopening schools in 1,000 pilot areas may be unsafe given the new variant, this representation suggested in the hearing for DepEd to consider reducing perhaps even further or scaling down the pilot areas to 500 or even 100 on the condition that piloting is a must if we are to determine the various challenges that will be encountered in the eventual reopening of our schools at some point in the future. The sooner we pilot, the sooner we will be able to ensure sufficient preparations, the sooner we will be able to learn about the gaps and address them.

Reopening schools nationwide will require proof of concept, and this is achieved soonest with the invaluable experiences gained because of successful selected rollouts in these piloted areas.

We are running out of time. The future of the country will heavily depend on how we are able to nourish and educate our children. It is our very future we are depriving of effective education.

Kailangan din po siguruhin na idiin na hindi naman basta-basta bubuksan ang klase. Maraming protocols na ipapatupad — limitado ang mga paaralan at mag-aaral na sasali, at sa mga piling lugar lamang ilalagay o maisisiguro ang kaligtasan. Ang mas mahalaga ay magkaroon na tayo ng karanasan kung paano ito gagawin.

At gagawin nga ito, precisely, para hindi basta-bastang buksan ang ating mga paaralan. 

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, kung paano ito gagawin. 

Wag na po sana nating idagdag ang krisis sa edukasyon sa marami nang krisis na hinaharap ng ating bansa ngayon.

We urge our colleagues to adopt this Senate resolution. Maraming salamat.


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