Sotto pushes resumption of in-person classes
MANILA, Philippines — Senate President Vicente Sotto III pushed for the resumption of face-to-face classes in areas where there are few or no COVID-19 cases despite the absence of vaccines, shortage of classrooms and lack of proper health facilities and personnel to address the dangers to the health and possibly lives of children.
Sotto said he would propose on Monday a resolution that would urge the executive department to resume face-to-face classes to allow the country’s educational system to catch up with its Southeast Asian neighbors.
“There are deep concerns that while countries whose students had performed well in the past international assessments are already back on track, the Philippines is still lagging behind using the blended learning method, which to many is not an effective means due to lack of access to internet and gadgets by majority of pupils and students,” he said in a statement.
Sotto cited the results of National Achievement Test (NAT), Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMMS), and Southeast Asia Primary Learning Metrics (SEA-PLM), which the country’s poor performance.
But he conceded in his statement that the assessments by local and international organizations were conducted before the pandemic, suggesting that that was already the situation even before the lockdowns and the poor performance may also be due to systemic problems that have not been addressed by Congress.
“I am fully aware that the threat of COVID-19 remains high, there are also reports that the virus is mutating and more variants are being discovered. But we cannot sacrifice the future of our youth,” he said.
He cited government data that about 433 cities and municipalities nationwide do not have any COVID-19 cases and local school boards be authorized to assess and recommend whether to reopen or lockdown schools and allow physical classes to resume in their respective jurisdictions.
Sotto said face-to-face classes is “probably” the best way to arrest the decline in the quality of education in the country, and to improve learner outcomes.
He expressed concern that the Philippines is the only country in Southeast Asia, and one of only 14 out of 150 nations in the world that still has its schools closed since the start of the pandemic last year.
“There are deep concerns that while countries whose students had performed well in the past international assessments are already back on track, the Philippines is still lagging behind using the blended learning method,” he said.
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