BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian is pushing for the return to face-to-face classes and its budget allocation in Congress to ensure that its trial run on November 15 will be smooth sailing.
The distance learning modality does not work for Filipino schoolchildren, Gatchalian, who chairs the Senate committee on Basic Education, said, noting also that students in distance learning do not absorb their lessons.
“They are not learning and we saw that,” Gatchalian, who attended on October 23 the first flag-raising ceremony of the Central Philippine State University’s extension campus and the blessing of CPSU training center and staff house in Valladolid, Negros Occidental, said.
“Children do not learn through distance learning. Mayroon pang mga issues kung sino ang sumasagot ng mga exam. We often hear cases that the ones answering are the parents or the neighbors. So, hindi Natututo ang bata,” he stressed.
Gatchalian said he hopes that the trial run for face-to-face classes, which kicks off next month, will succeed, so that it will pave the way for the full face-to-face classes by January 2022 or even earlier.
The Department of Education is targeting 120 schools, with 40 pending applications, as of this time, he added. But he also said that he will push those 120 slots will be filled up.
Gatchalian added that the pilot testing is also meant to find out where adjustments should be made and where the budget for the trial run should be allocated.
Initially, he disclosed, that a P300 million budget has been set aside for the program, with the bulk of which is allocated to ensure that the 120 schools have hand washing facilities.
Gatchalian also said that he is pushing for the implementation nationwide of the Alert Level System being imposed by the National Inter-Agency Task Force in the National Capital Region.
The alert system may also serve as basis in approving the applications of schools for face-to-face classes, he added.
“Metro Manila, for example, is currently under Alert Level System 3 which already allows minors to go out and go to the malls. Therefore, they should also be allowed to go to school,” he pointed out, adding that he is confident that COVID-19 infections in the NCR will continue to slide down, consequently, improving its ALS status to Alert Level System 2. Asked if face-to-face classes are still possible even if herd immunity has yet to be accomplished, Gatchalian clarified that Metro Manila is already 80 percent fully vaccinated. He also cited that in Valenzuela, his home city, is already 85 percent fully vaccinated or 15 notches higher than the minimum standard herd immunity classification set at 70 percent.
Local governments like Bacolod, Cebu and Davao are currently 50 percent vaccinated so that before the end of 2021, these LGUs may already reach 80 percent, he added.*