Learning loss challenge

Even as we await solid evidence of the crisis, we definitely do know, even if instinctively, that the pandemic did wreak havoc on our fragile education system.

The tactic, in this case, is to incessantly undermine and challenge the country’s administrative control of Pag-asa Island.

A black hole created by the pandemic is alarmingly growing to crisis proportions in our already messy education system.

And our education officials and grandstanding politicians, going by what they’ve been recently talking about, seem unaware the hole even exists.

Either they are clueless about the hole or if they do know about it, they refuse to hear of it, preferring to bury their heads in the sand like scared ostriches.

Yet by now, the hole is disconcertingly big enough that it definitely needs a big enough patch to cover it.

Otherwise, without urgent and massive interventions, the hole threatens to devour a whole generation of Filipino school kids, turning them into a forlorn “lost generation.”

What is this dire crisis which the pandemic caused that’s slowly devouring our school kids? A whole generation of Filipino kids is now, so far, far behind in their learning.

This, even if schoolchildren are already back inside classrooms, presumably heroically catching up on what they failed to learn outside of the classroom in the past three years of the pandemic.

Commonly referred to as “learning losses,” most of us are admittedly ill-informed about this crisis, clueless about how much learning Filipino school kids had lost in the pandemic or how long it would take for them to recover from those losses.

Knowing the full extent of the “learning losses” Filipino school children are suffering from will need a thorough scientific study by our local education researchers.

But I’m betting that if ever a “learning losses” study does get done, the results will startle both the officialdom and parents.

Yet, even as we await solid evidence of the crisis, we definitely do know, even if instinctively, that the pandemic did wreak havoc on our fragile education system.

Still, despite these drawbacks, we do have something to go on since “learning losses” is a worldwide crisis.

A European study released this week, for example, found that students in 15 high-income and middle-income countries “lost out on about 35% of a normal school years’ worth of learning” when in-person learning stopped during the worldwide health crisis.

As such, many developed countries are already scrambling to undo its impact, currently making important decisions about which interventions and strategies to implement to mitigate proven learning declines of the last two years.

Some of these countries are instituting remedial measures, ranging from high-dosage after-school tutorials to extended school hours or mandatory summer classes to address the issue.

At any rate, if schoolchildren’s learning progress had substantially slowed down in those countries, it’s a foregone conclusion that in many hapless developing countries “learning losses” are far worse.

In fact, the “learning losses” of this generation compound the worsening “learning poverty” problems of low-income and middle-income economies.

Recent studies on “learning poverty” in such economies have shown that as many as 70 percent of 10-year-olds can’t read or understand the basic text.

Undoubtedly, Filipino kids have the same problems.

In the face of such real tragedy, many education experts are strongly urging governments to immediately take up policy initiatives to help their schoolchildren recover their “learning losses” even as they contend with “learning poverty.”

If our government is really serious about our current state of schooling, it is imperative it listens to this urgent advice.

Taking heed of this advice, of course, means considerable practical challenges and resources. But there is no choice but to urgently face them.

Not doing anything now will be costly to this country and endanger the future welfare, well-being, and livelihoods of a whole generation of Filipino children and youth.

Clearly, much work needs to be immediately done for Filipino schoolchildren to recover lost ground.

Now, is this government up to this first and foremost challenging priority in our education system, broken though it may be?


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