The Department of Education (DepEd) should aggressively pursue a nationwide learning recovery program to prevent economic scarring due to the lack of face-to-face classes, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said.

Gatchalian, chair of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture, in a statement said the DepEd should heed the Department of Finance’s (DOF) warning of an economic scarring and look for ways to accelerate learning recovery among students.

Finance Secretary 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.

In response, Gatchalian filed Senate Bill No. 2355 or the Academic Recovery and Accessible Learning (ARAL) Program Act.

The measure primarily seeks a well-systematized tutorial sessions for learners who are struggling to achieve the minimum level of mastery required in Language, Mathematics, and Science.

The measure also 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. Aside from this, focus on numeracy and literacy skills for kindergarten learners will be included in the program.

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) has estimated that the yearlong lack of in-person classes would cost the Philippine economy P11-trillion in productivity losses over the next 40 years.

Even the World Bank warned last year that learning poverty could worsen because of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gatchalian noted 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 (Not only would their studies be affected with the lack of face-to-face classes. It will also damage their capability to find a job or livelihood because they failed to get an effective and quality education),” Gatchalian lamented.

Kaya naman isinusulong natin ang programang ARAL upang mabigyan ng pagkakataon ang ating mga kabataang makahabol sa kanilang edukasyon (That’s why we are pushing for the ARAL program so our younger generation can have a chance to catch up with their education),” the senator stressed.

The DepEd earlier started 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.

But following the imposition of Alert Level 3 in Metro Manila and nearby provinces, the agency deferred the expansion of limited face-to-face classes.

Source: Manila Bulletin (