Senator Win Gatchalian is urging the Department of Education (DepEd) to have dialogues with parent-teacher associations (PTAs) to address lingering concerns in the roll-out of the Learning Continuity Plan (LCP) for SY 2020-2021.
Gatchalian emphasized that dialogues should adhere to practices that protect oneself and the others from coronavirus, such as social distancing measures.
The senator said that PTAs should be mobilized as partners in enrollment campaigns to reduce the potential number of dropouts as some parents would opt not to enroll their children amid fears of COVID-19. PTAs, however, must fully understand how minimum health standards in the LCP will ensure the safety of learners when classes reopen.
Gatchalian added that collaborating with PTAs can enhance the readiness of both teachers and parents in using alternative modes of learning delivery such as online distance learning, modular distance learning, and through television and radio. Gatchalian warned that parents, teachers, and guardians may experience high stress levels if they are not prepared to take on their new roles in rolling out the LCP, which will worsen learners’ academic outcomes.
According to the United Nations Children’s Fund’s (UNICEF) Back-To-School Guide, which identifies strategies for education resumption after crises and emergencies, PTAs should be empowered to monitor vulnerable groups’ access to education.
PTAs can serve as support groups for data collection, filing of data gaps, and identifying issues on children’s attendance and retention in schools. In Iraq, for instance, back-to-school campaigns activate PTAs to focus on community participation and identify inclusion and retention issues among children.
Aside from the prevention of dropouts, UNICEF’s Back-To-School Guide also recommends that PTAs be capacitated in developing school improvement plans, emergency preparedness, and the implementation of hygiene and sanitation measures.
In working with PTAs, Gatchalian said the DepEd should also capacitate parents in providing psychosocial support to learners, noting that parents and guardians have the responsibility to create a safe and productive learning environment in their homes.
“Nakasasalay sa ating mga magulang at mga guro ang mabisang pagpapatuloy ng edukasyon sa kabila ng patuloy na banta ng COVID-19. Bago pa muling buksan ang mga klase, dapat ngayon pa lang ay makipag-ugnayan na ang DepEd sa PTA upang mabigyang linaw ang anumang tanong o pangamba ng ating mga magulang at mga guro,” said Gatchalian, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture.