By Ernie Reyes
MANILA – Following the Department of Finance’s (DOF)
warning of economic scarring because of a prolonged lack of face-to-face
classes, Senator Win Gatchalian is pitching a nationwide remedial program to
accelerate learning recovery.
Secretary of Finance Carlos Dominguez recently said that
the government must find a way to regain the school days lost due to the
pandemic, noting that the lack of face-to-face classes will affect the quality
of education and eventually the youth’s earning capacity. Under Senate Bill No.
2355 or the Academic Recovery and Accessible Learning (ARAL) Program Act,
Gatchalian proposes well-systematized tutorial sessions for learners who are
struggling to achieve the minimum level of mastery required in Language, Mathematics,
The proposed ARAL program aims to cover the most
essential learning competencies on Language and Mathematics for Grades 1 to 10
and Science for Grades 3 to 10. It also seeks to focus on Reading to develop
learners’ critical and analytical thinking skills. Numeracy and literacy skills
will be given focus for Kindergarten learners. The proposed program also aims
to target learners who did not enroll for School Year (SY) 2020-2021.
The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA)
estimated that the yearlong lack of face-to-face classes will cost the
Philippine economy P11 trillion in productivity losses over the next 40 years.
Based on the results of the 2019 Trends in International
Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) where the Philippines ranked last among
58 countries in mathematics and science assessment for Grade 4 students, the
World Bank has estimated that learning poverty in the country was at 90% in 2021.
Learning poverty could worsen because of the impact of the COVID-19
pandemic, the World Bank warned last year. Learning poverty is defined as the
percentage of children aged 10 who could not read or understand a simple story.
“Hindi lamang ang pag-aaral ng mga bata ang maaapektuhan
sa kawalan ng face-to-face classes. Mapipinsala rin ang kanilang kakayahang
magkaroon ng maayos na hanapbuhay dahil hindi sila nakatanggap ng epektibo at
dekalidad na edukasyon. Kaya naman isinusulong natin ang programang ARAL upang
mabigyan ng pagkakataon ang ating mga kabataang makahabol sa kanilang
edukasyon,” said Gatchalian, chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic
Education, Arts, and Culture.
The pilot implementation of limited face-to-face classes
started in November 2021, with 28 schools in Metro Manila joining the pilot run
last December. Following the imposition of Alert Level 3 in Metro Manila and
nearby provinces, the Department of Education (DepEd) deferred the expansion of
limited face-to-face classes.