Following the World Health Organization’s declaration that COVID-19 is no longer a global health emergency, Senator Win Gatchalian emphasized the need to focus on the recovery of the education sector, one of the hardest hit during the height of the pandemic.
Gatchalian pressed the need for a full rollout of a learning recovery program to mitigate learning loss resulting from the lack of face-to-face classes for two years. According to UNESCO, the Philippines has the longest pandemic school closures in the world. The senator said the learning recovery program will be achieved with the passage and implementation of the ARAL Program Act (Senate Bill No. 1604), which he authored and sponsored. The measure was approved on third and final reading last March.
The Academic Recovery and Accessible Learning (ARAL) Program aims to help learners master essential learning competencies and make up for learning loss. Under the ARAL Program, learners will have access to well-systematized tutorial sessions and well-designed intervention plans.
The World Bank estimates that learning poverty in the Philippines is at 90.9% as of June 2022. This means that nine out of ten kids aged 10 in the Philippines cannot read or understand a simple story.
“Bagama’t nalagpasan na natin ang pinakamalalang yugto ng pandemya ng COVID-19, patuloy nating dapat tugunan ang pinsalang dinulot nito, lalo na sa sektor ng edukasyon. Kailangan nating magpatupad ng mga programa para makahabol ang ating mga mag-aaral sa kanilang pagkatuto. Kailangan din nating tiyakin na magiging mas matatag ang sektor ng edukasyon sakaling humarap tayong muli sa malawakang krisis,” said Gatchalian, Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Basic Education.
The senator also pointed out that the creation of a more inclusive and resilient education sector will be one of the aims of the Second Congressional Commission on Education (EDCOM II). Created by virtue of Republic Act No. 11899, the EDCOM II commenced the national assessment to review the education sector’s performance last January.
The EDCOM II is also mandated to propose reforms that will make the Philippines globally competitive in the education and labor markets.