To achieve the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2023-2028’s goals of implementing catch-up programs that will address learning losses, Senator Win Gatchalian is pushing for the passage of measures that will accelerate the education sector’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
One of these measures is a priority bill of Gatchalian for the 19th Congress: Senate Bill No. 1604 or the Academic Recovery and Accessible Learning (ARAL) Program Act, which seeks to establish a national learning intervention program that will address learning loss. The ARAL Program shall be grounded on well-systematized tutorial sessions, well-designed intervention plans and learning resources, and careful determination and assessment of learners, among others.
The proposed ARAL Program shall cover essential learning competencies in Language and Mathematics for Grades 1 to 10, and Science for Grades 3 to 10. It will also prioritize reading and literacy. For Kindergarten learners, the ARAL program shall focus on strengthening literacy and numeracy.
While learners were already struggling to master basic competencies even before the COVID-19 pandemic struck, Gatchalian emphasized the impact of the prolonged lack of face-to-face classes on learners’ performance.
The World Bank estimates that learning poverty in the Philippines is at 90.9%. Learning poverty in the Philippines is defined as the percentage of 10-year-old children who cannot read or understand a simple story.
The PDP 2023-2028 also eyes expanded access to the Alternative Learning System (ALS) by establishing additional community learning centers in municipalities and cities. According to Gatchalian, this is consistent with Republic Act No. 11510 or the Alternative Learning System Act, which he sponsored during the 18th Congress.
Gatchalian has been pushing for increased enrollment in ALS. As of March 14, 2022, there were 472,869 ALS learners enrolled for SY 2021-2022, 38% lower compared to pre-pandemic levels.
“Patuloy nating isusulong ang mga programang tutugon sa mga naging pinsala ng pandemya sa sektor ng edukasyon, lalong lalo na sa ating mga mag-aaral na matagal nang hindi nakabalik sa kanilang mga silid-aralan. Titiyakin natin ang suporta sa ating mga mag-aaral upan makamit nila ang sapat na kaalaman at kakayahan,” said Gatchalian, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education.