Amid the alarming level of learning poverty in the country, Senator Win Gatchalian has refiled a bill that seeks to institute a nationwide learning recovery program to address the impact of prolonged school closures because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Academic Recovery and Accessible Learning (ARAL) Program Act or Senate Bill No. 150 is one of Gatchalian’s top ten priority measures for the 19th Congress. The ARAL program, which will include well-systematized tutorial sessions and well-designed remediation plans, is his proposed national core strategy to allow learners to catch up with the rest of the world despite their learning loss.
Using pre-pandemic data, the World Bank estimates that learning poverty in the Philippines has reached 90.5%. This means that nine out of 10 Filipino children aged 10 cannot read or understand a simple story.
The proposed ARAL Program ensures that learners are ensured optimal instructional time to ensure mastery of essential competencies and make up for learning loss. The proposed program targets those learners who did not enroll for School Year 2020-2021, those lagging academically, and are at and marginally above the minimum level of mastery required in Language, Mathematics, and Science.
The ARAL program will also prioritize Reading to develop the critical and analytical thinking skills of learners. For Kindergarten learners, the ARAL program will focus on building foundational competencies aimed at strengthening their literacy and numeracy.
Teachers and para-teachers who will serve as tutors under the ARAL program will receive proper remuneration for their services. Tertiary level students who will volunteer as tutors for a period of two semesters shall be deemed to have completed the Literacy Training Service under the National Service Training Program (NSTP).
“Upang tuloy tuloy na makabangon ang sektor ng edukasyon mula sa pinsalang dulot ng pandemya, kailangan nating magpatupad ng malawakang programa para sa learning recovery. Titiyakin nating matututukan natin ang pangangailangan ng ating mga mag-aaral upang hindi sila mapag-iwanan pagdating sa kanilang kaalaman,” said Gatchalian.
Based on a December 2021 report by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, UNICEF, and the World Bank, learning poverty will increase by as much as 10% points in lower-middle income countries like the Philippines because of COVID-19 school closures.