Classrooms across the country were quiet as millions of Filipino students commenced another year of remote learning that experts fear will worsen an educational “crisis.”
As per PhilStarLife.com, only the Philippines and Venezuela are the only two countries in the world that have yet to recommence face-to-face classes. So far, President Rodrigo Duterte has rejected proposals for a pilot reopening of primary and secondary schools due to the fear children could catch COVID-19, and in turn, infect elderly relatives.
Since the onset of the pandemic, the country has pivoted to blending learning. This learning model has been plagued with problems: most students in the Philippines don’t have a computer or internet at home.
Not only that, more than 80% of parents are worried their children “are learning less”, said Isy Faingold, UNICEF’s education chief in the Philippines, citing a recent survey. About two-thirds of them support the reopening of classrooms in areas where virus transmission is low.
“Distance learning cannot replace in-person learning,” Faingold said. “There was already a learning crisis before COVID… it’s going to be even worse.”
To put things into perspective, fifteen-year-olds in the Philippines were at or near the bottom in reading, mathematics, and science, according to OECD data. The majority of Filipino students attend public schools where large class sizes, outdated teaching methods, lack of investment in basic infrastructure such as toilets, and poverty have been blamed for youngsters lagging behind.
Unfortunately, school enrolments fell to 26.9 million in September 2020 and have dropped a further five million since. Faingold fears a lot of students may ‘never’ return. “We hope in the next few days the enrolments continue to accelerate,” Faingold said.
With everything going on, let’s hope experts find a comprise in order for students to receive the education they deserve. After all, children are the future.