MANILA, Philippines — Further delays in the safe return to classroom learning could result in heavier losses for students and the economy in the long run, an advocacy group said Tuesday as it urged government to reconsider its decision to shun the resumption of in-person classes.
President Rodrigo Duterte this week rejected the move until vaccinations in the country —the rollout of which has been delayed— begin. This, despite reported difficulties with modular learning through printouts or online classes.
But for Philippine Business for Education, schools remaining closed when many restrictions have already been eased could be "disastrous" for the education system as well as for the economy.
"We don't want to endanger the lives of our teachers and students either," said Love Basillote, PBED executive director. "But if we can safely reopen the economy following health guidelines and protocols, what is preventing us from safely reopening our schools?"
Duterte has also rejected a proposal to put the entire country under Modified General Community Quarantine until vaccines arrive.
Basillote added: "With no alternatives left, we are abandoning a generation of young people."
Some 25 million Filipino students enrolled in DepEd's distance learning, which began in October 2020. The figure is down by two million from 2019.
"This has a grave impact on national development," she added, suggesting that the government can look at how other countries have handled the return to classrooms.
Basillote said the millions who have stopped school will find it difficult to get jobs in the future. "We cannot expect an economic expansion with our companies going under because they cannot find skilled workers."
The call of PBED, which had sought to sound the alarm on already a "learning crisis" in the country due to the pandemic, comes amid recent surveys by another group that showed 70.9% of 1,395 teachers are doubtful that their students are learning under the modular scheme.
Some 54% also said that a "definite portion" of their class was lagging behind in the first quarter of the school year, with only 4% reporting that their students are able to keep up.