PHL gov’t eyes full face-to-face classes for schools this November

PBBM cites need to vaccinate school kids in preparation for class opening-

Screenshot of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr’s first press briefing in Malacanang on Tuesday, July 5, 2022 (Courtesy PTV/RTVM)

(Eagle News) – The Philippine government is eyeing a full return to face-to-face classes by November this year that will be preceded by a massive vaccination campaign for schoolchildren, according to President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

In his first press briefing in Malacanang on Tuesday, July 5, President Marcos Jr., reported what had been discussed in their first ever cabinet meeting the night before which lasted for four hours.

He reported discussions about the economy and the education sector, and even in agriculture, but that they were not able to cover everything.

After the discussions by the economic team, Marcos Jr., said Vice-President and concurrent education secretary Sara Duterte-Carpio “gave her ideas on how we will return slowly to face to face in the face to face and face to face education in the next semester.”

‘We have a plan to have full face-to-face (classes) by November this year,” the President said citing the report of the new Department of Education chief.

-Start of phased face-to-face classes by September-

“September we will start a phased face-to-face schooling,” he said.

He said that full phasing will end up in early November when classes would be done 100 percent face-to-face.

“In early November, there will already be 100 percent attendance ng mga bata. Kasama dyan, we also have to talk about vaccination,” President Marcos said.

Vice-President and new education secretary Sara Duterte-Carpio formally receives the official seal of the Department of Education from former DepEd chief Leonor Briones on Monday, July 4, 2022. (Screenshot of DepEd video)

“Let’s get this done quickly. As usual, we’re nagmamadali, as we want to have much done in very little time,” he said as he recalled his other instructions to his cabinet members,

The Philippines is one of the last to resume full-time in-person classes since the pandemic began, with schools shuttered in March 2020 in tandem with lengthy lockdowns.

The UN children’s agency has warned that school closures have caused enormous losses in education around the world, with some governments slow to reopen classrooms even as vaccination rates increased.

Marcos said school reopenings will start from September and ramp up rapidly over the next two months, accompanied by a vaccination campaign.

About 64 percent of the country’s population of 110 million are fully vaccinated.

Former president Rodrigo Duterte allowed children to return to classrooms in just 100 schools out of more than 61,000 in November last year, but ruled out a full resumption before his term ended last month, citing health concerns.

The policy was seen by critics as exacerbating an education crisis in the country.

-ACT welcomes PBBM announcement on face-to-face classes-

Alliance of Concerned Teachers secretary-general Raymond Basilio welcomed the new government’s announcement.

“Our teachers have seen a terrible loss of learning since 2020 that is exacerbating poverty,” he said.

Basilio said some teachers in the association had complained that a number of elementary and even high school students still could not read or write.

He told AFP the government’s “blended” learning programme — involving online classes, printed materials and lessons broadcast on television and social media — was “problematic”.

Modules were poorly vetted and young Filipinos had limited internet access, he said.

A report published jointly last month by UNICEF and other agencies said the pandemic had increased “learning poverty” by a third in low- and middle-income countries, with an estimated 70 percent of 10-year-olds unable to understand a simple written text.

“Put in strictly economic terms, unless we take action to recover learning, this generation of students is at risk of losing $21 trillion in potential lifetime earnings,” UNICEF executive director Catherine Russell said last month.

Last year, 15-year-olds in the Philippines were at or near the bottom in reading, mathematics and science, according to OECD data.


(with a report from Agence France-Presse)

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