Following the Department of Finance’s (DOF) warning of an economic scarring because of a prolonged lack of face-to-face classes, Senator Win Gatchalian is pitching a nationwide remedial program to accelerate learning recovery.
Secretary of Finance Carlos Dominguez recently said that the government must find a way to regain the school days lost due to the pandemic, noting that the lack of face-to-face classes will affect the quality of education and eventually the youth’s earning capacity. Under Senate Bill No. 2355 or the Academic Recovery and Accessible Learning (ARAL) Program Act, Gatchalian proposes well-systematized tutorial sessions for learners who are struggling to achieve the minimum level of mastery required in Language, Mathematics, and Science.
The proposed ARAL program aims to cover the most essential learning competencies on Language and Mathematics for Grades 1 to 10 and Science for Grades 3 to 10. It also seeks to focus on Reading to develop learners’ critical and analytical thinking skills. Numeracy and literacy skills will be given focus for Kindergarten learners. The proposed program also aims to target learners who did not enroll for School Year (SY) 2020-2021.
The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) estimated that the yearlong lack of face-to-face classes will cost the Philippine economy P11 trillion in productivity losses over the next 40 years.
Based on the results of the 2019 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) where the Philippines ranked last among 58 countries in mathematics and science assessment for Grade 4 students, the World Bank has estimated that learning poverty in the country was at 90% in 2021. Learning poverty could worsen because of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Bank warned last year. Learning poverty is defined as the percentage of children aged 10 who could not read or understand a simple story.
“Hindi lamang ang pag-aaral ng mga bata ang maaapektuhan sa kawalan ng face-to-face classes. Mapipinsala rin ang kanilang kakayahang magkaroon ng maayos na hanapbuhay dahil hindi sila nakatanggap ng epektibo at dekalidad na edukasyon. Kaya naman isinusulong natin ang programang ARAL upang mabigyan ng pagkakataon ang ating mga kabataang makahabol sa kanilang edukasyon,” said Gatchalian, chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts, and Culture.
The pilot implementation of limited face-to-face classes started in November 2021, with 28 schools in Metro Manila joining the pilot run last December. Following the imposition of Alert Level 3 in Metro Manila and nearby provinces, the Department of Education (DepEd) deferred the expansion of limited face-to-face classes.