The Department of Education is studying the possibility of a gradual return to face-to-face classes in 2021, Education Secretary Leonor Briones said Tuesday.
She made her statement since at least three vaccines by manufacturers in the United States and the United Kingdom—Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca—announced that their vaccines were at least 90-percent effective in preventing COVID-19 after human trials.
“Definitely not this year. Definitely not until the President makes the announcement, but we are preparing a report to the President based on the current experience,” Briones said.
While the learners affected by the recent storms await the printing and distribution of new sets of learning materials, Senator Win Gatchalian has again proposed to resume classes through “purok workshops” if they are in COVID-19-free or ‘low-risk’ areas.
The chairman of the Senate committee on basic Education, arts and culture says it is crucial that recovery efforts work towards the resumption of classes as it will give learners a sense of normalcy after the disasters.
During his rounds in Bicol and Cagayan Valley, two of the regions hit hardest by a string of typhoons, Gatchalian pitched again his proposal for schools or teachers to conduct classes through “purok workshops.”
Higher budget for learners
Senator Grace Poe urged the Senate to reconsider increasing the budget for the Department of Information and Communications Technology’s “Digital Learners Project” that was slashed from P3.44 billion to P100 million.
The program aims to equip 500,000 students and 25,000 teachers with laptops, pocket WiFi devices and other gadgets needed for distance learning.
Poe also cited the DICT’s Tech4ED program as a possible solution to these educational woes.
The Tech4ED program aims to set up learning centers to provide digital employment and educational opportunities for the marginalized.
Inclusive education pushed
Senator Christopher Go on Tuesday expressed his support for a proposed measure that would guaranty and facilitate the rights of learners with disabilities to inclusive education.
The senator, who intends to co-author the measures, urged the government to maintain its commitment to ensure that all learners, regardless of their abilities and disabilities, had the right to gain access to quality education without discrimination.
“Education is a constitutionally enshrined right which the State must protect and promote,” Go said.
Senate Bill 1907, also known as an Act Instituting Services and Programs for Learners with Disabilities in Support of Inclusive Education, aims to do this by providing free support services as well as programs that are specifically tailored to the needs of differently-abled learners.