Bishop Roberto Mallari of San Jose expressed concern over the move to substitute “face-to-face” classes with online and “distance learning.”
The prelate said online classes lack the personal encounter that contributes to the formation of the person and of the student.
Bishop Mallari, who heads the Episcopal Commission on Catechesis and Catholic Education, said online classes will also highlight social and economic differences.
“Online study enables us to see that there is a big digital divide,” he said.
“Many of our young students do not have any access to [the internet] especially those in the rural areas,” added the prelate.
The Department of Education has announced the distribution of printed self-learning modules for students who do not have access to online learning platforms.
Education officials said parents should have a “more active role” in their children’s learning process as the country enters into a “new normal” due to the pandemic.
President Rodrigo Duterte said he will not allow the opening of classes unless he is sure the students are safe from the new coronavirus disease.
The Alliance of Concerned Teachers has called on the government to postpone its planned school opening unless distance learning will be fully accessible to learners, especially the poor.
The Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines, meanwhile, encouraged parents and teachers to prepare for the opening of classes.
“As stewards of Catholic schools, I am appealing to all of you to pray, plan, and prepare,” said Father Nolan Que, an official of the association.
The priest urged Catholic schools in the capital to “plan the institutional continuity of our schools.”
“Adjust the framework according to your school’s current situation as necessary,” he said.