MANILA – Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Friday urged the government to invest in a national program that will address academic deficiency caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and avert losses from lack of face-to-face classes.
In a news release, Gatchalian said Thursday’s Senate hearing on Senate Bill No. 150, or the Academic Recovery and Accessible Learning (ARAL) Program Act, revealed that the lack of face-to-face classes for a year will result in PHP10.8-trillion productivity losses over the next 40 years based on estimates by the National Economic and Development Authority.
An initial allocation of PHP20 billion is included in the ARAL program.
The amount may seem big but Gatchalian said it is only 0.18 percent of looming productivity losses.
“PHP20 billion is actually quite cheap to spend on an academic recovery program. On the other hand, if you don’t do anything, we lose PHP10 trillion right away,” said Gatchalian, chair of the Committee on Basic Education.
The ARAL Program is Gatchalian’s proposed national core strategy to allow learners to catch up with the rest of the world despite learning losses.
The program will include well-systematized tutorial sessions and well-designed remediation plans.
It targets learners who did not enroll in School Year 2020-2021 when the pandemic began, are lagging academically, and are at or marginally above the minimum level of mastery required in Language, Mathematics, and Science
It will cover the most essential learning competencies under Language and Mathematics for Grades 1 to 10, and Science for Grades 3 to 10.
For Kindergarten learners, literacy and numeracy competencies will be given focus to build on their foundational competencies.
Based on World Bank estimates, learning poverty in the Philippines is at 90.9 percent as of June 2022.
Learning poverty is defined as the percentage of children aged 10 who cannot read or understand a simple story.
“If we don’t do a massive academic recovery program, we will see a much worse number for our assessments because during pre-pandemic, it was already dismal,” Gatchalian said.