Target: 100% in-person classes by November
MANILA, Philippines — The government wants to resume in-person classes at full capacity by November this year even with the increasing COVID-19 cases in the country, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said on Tuesday.
In his first press briefing as president, Marcos said Vice President Sara Duterte, who is also the education secretary, relayed during their first Cabinet meeting in Malacañang her department’s plan for a gradual resumption of in-person classes for the school year 2022-2023 until full capacity is reached after three months.
“There are some things that are immediately accessible in the sense that we can start doing something about it already. The first thing that is an example of that was Inday Sara’s announcement that we have a plan for full face-to-face (classes) by November of this year,” the president told reporters in Malacañang.
He said the Department of Education (DepEd) would start a phased in-person schooling by September and wanted “100-percent attendance” by November.
The DepEd earlier said that 38,000 schools in the country were ready for in-person classes for the opening of the school year in August.
Neda chief’s warning
On Monday, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan urged the DepEd to immediately resume face-to-face classes, or risk the future Filipino labor force lagging behind those of its neighbors.
“When they join the labor market five to 10 years from now, they will not be as competitive as our neighbors, who have already opened up and provided better access to [education],” Balisacan said.
“This pandemic has been so inequitable; it has exacerbated the inequality of opportunities in education. So we should reduce and address that inequality,” said the chief of the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda).
The country is one of the last to resume full-time in-person classes since the pandemic began, with schools shuttered in March 2020 in tandem with lengthy lockdowns.
The UN children’s agency has warned that school closures have caused enormous losses in education worldwide, with some governments slow to reopen classrooms even as vaccination rates increased.