Gatchalian asks gov’t to uphold children’s welfare in pandemic recovery

Gatchalian asks gov’t to uphold children’s welfare in pandemic recovery

By Ernie Reyes

MANILA — Amid the celebration of National Children’s Month this
November, Senator Win Gatchalian pressed the need to ensure that
COVID-19 recovery efforts will uphold the rights and welfare of
children.

Gatchalian pointed out that school closures and restrictions on
children’s movement took their toll on the well-being and safety of
children.

While the government has already started the vaccination of minors
aged 12-17 and the pilot test of limited face-to-face classes is set
to begin later this month, Gatchalian also bats for a learning
recovery program to mitigate the effects of prolonged school closures.

The lawmaker earlier filed Senate Bill No. 2355 which seeks to
establish a learning recovery program known as the Academic Recovery
and Accessible Learning (ARAL).

The program will cover the most essential learning competencies under
Language and Mathematics for Grades 1 to 10 and Science for Grades 3
to 10. For Kindergarten learners, literacy and numeracy competencies
will be strengthened.

The proposed program will target those who did not enroll the last school
year and those who are struggling to master the minimum level of
mastery required in Language, Mathematics, and Science.

It also seeks the adequate provision of nutritional, social,
emotional, and mental health support to learners.

Meanwhile, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA)
estimates that the lack of face-to-face classes for one year will
result in a projected P11-trillion loss in productivity over the next
40 years.

“Matinding pinsala ang dulot ng COVID-19 sa ating mga kabataan kaya
naman sa ating pagbangon mula sa pandemya, dapat nating tiyaking hindi
sila mapag-iiwanan,” said Gatchalian, Chairman of the Senate Committee
on Basic Education, Arts and Culture.

Gatchalian also highlighted the need to prioritize the safe reopening
of schools in the 2022 national budget.

He earlier flagged that the P358 million allocated for Priority School
Health Facilities might not be adequate to ensure water, sanitation,
and health facilities in schools that still lack them.

The lawmaker also pressed to increase funding for the Early Childhood
Care and Development (ECCD) Council, an attached agency of the
Department of Education (DepEd).

The proposed P71.9 million allocation for the agency in 2022 is 59%
lower than this year’s budget. (ai/mtvn)

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