/ 3 January 2021

SEN. Sherwin Gatchalian defended the government’s decision to call off the holding of limited face-to-face classes but urged the Department of Education to take steps to avert a learning crisis.

Gatchalian said that the government has to take precautions to protect students amid reports on the spread of a new Covid variant.

However, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture warned that the country should brace itself for the spike of learners with poor performance.

To mitigate the looming learning losses and make up for lost time on face-to-face instruction, Gatchalian said the government should exhaust all measures to help learners catch up.

He said remedial programs can be implemented to assess learning gaps, especially among vulnerable students.

Under the 2021 national budget, the Education department was allotted P16.6 billion for its flexible learning program.

An additional P6 billion was given for flexible learning options under unprogrammed appropriations.

Gatchalian said that the absence of face-to-face classes entails the continuous use of alternative modalities for learning delivery such as self-learning modules, radio- and television-based lessons to support teachers and learners.

He added that the Alternative Learning System can be strengthened to reach out to an estimated 2.3 million K to 12 learners who were not able to enroll because of the pandemic.

“Dahil wala na muna tayong face-to-face classes ngayong Enero, nangangamba akong baka lalong umurong ang kaalaman ng ating mga kabataan. Mas malaki ang magiging problema natin. Kaya dapat sa 2021, ibuhos natin ang budget at lahat ng resources para masiguro na hindi umurong ang kaalaman ng ating mga estudyante,” the senator said.