Although almost every country in the world has already partially or completely reopened schools for face-to-face lessons, the Philippines has closed them since March 2020.
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“We need to run face-to-face (classes) because it’s not just about education, it’s about children’s mental health issues,” presidential spokesman Harry Rock told reporters. “It’s also a problem for the economy because we could lose a generation if we don’t have a class.”
One hundred public schools in areas considered “minimal risk” for virus infection will be allowed to take part in the two-month test, according to guidelines approved Monday in Duterte.
Twenty private schools can also participate.
Classrooms will be open for children from kindergarten to grade three and senior high school, but the number of students and the hours spent in face-to-face lessons are limited.
Schools that wish to participate will be assessed for readiness and reopening will require local government approval. Parental written consent will be required.
“If the pilot class is safe, if it is effective, we will gradually increase it,” said Education Secretary Leonor Bryonis.
Duerte rejected a previous offer to open a pilot school for fear that children could catch the Covid-1 catch and infect older relatives.
But calls for a return to private education from the United Nations Children’s Fund and many teachers have led to a growing education crisis in the country.
It is not clear when the pilot will start or which schools will be included.
A “Blended Learning” program, which will include online classes, printed materials and lessons broadcast on television and social media.
France Castro of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers told AFP the decision was “long overdue”.
Fifteen-year-olds in the Philippines were at the bottom of reading, math and science, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
Most students attend public schools where large class size, old methods of education, lack of investment in basic infrastructure such as toilets and poverty have been blamed for the backwardness of young people.
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