A Catholic bishop in the Philippines appealed to President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to address problems that continue to beset the country’s education sector.
Among the issues raised by Bishop Elmer Mangalinao, chairman of the Episcopal Commission on Catechesis and Catholic Education are the lack of classrooms, the “low quality of education,” and the lack of benefits for teachers.
In an interview over Radio Veritas 846, the prelate said these are “challenges that should be given immediate attention.”
He also stressed the lack of support for teachers in the private sector who have “contributed a lot to the formation of students.”
The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT), meanwhile, said “urgent requisites” should be met for a safe 100 percent face-to-face classes that the government said will start in November.
“It would be hard for students, teachers and parents to all go to school and encounter another surge of COVID-19, so we need to be careful and prepared,” said Vladimer Quetua, chairperson of ACT.
A survey done by the Movement for Safe, Equitable, Quality, and Relevant (SEQuRe) Education on the initial face to face classes already held found that the Philippines “has a long way to go” if the country is to open all the schools for 100 percent face-to-face learning.
The survey noted that government funding and support have been “insufficient,” which compelled 59 to 83 percent of teacher-respondents to “spend out-of-pocket to prepare schools and classrooms for safe reopening, while some important safety measures were still not sufficiently installed.”
ACT forwards the following requisites to address the issues raised by the survey to have a safe 100 percent face-to-face classes:
- Double school maintenance and operating budget for:
a. Proper and adequate ventilation/air flow of classrooms;
b. Sufficient hand-washing facilities and water supply
c. Operational clinic with adequate supplies and equipment
d. Ample health and sanitation supplies and enforcement of health protocols
- Employ additional teachers to be able to implement the ideal class size of maximum 35 students.
- Employ nurses and utility personnel for every school.
- Ensure the health protection and benefits of teachers and non-teaching staff.
Free medical check-up and treatment
15-day sick leave for teachers
Additional compensation for teaching overload and non-teaching duties for teachers, as well as overtime for teachers and employees.
Timely and just payment of Special Hardship Allowance for teachers
- Aid for struggling families in the midst of the economic crisis.
- Conduct a learning assessment of students all over the country to guide the curriculum adjustments for the education recovery program.
“These are some of the requisites for a safe back-to-school program this year because we need to address the ‘old normal’ problems to enable a safe 100% school reopening,” ended Quetua.
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