Education Secretary Leonor Briones on Tuesday said students long cooped up at home as a result of the coronavirus disease pandemic have triggered psychosocial problems because of their lack of personal interactions.
She further noted that prolonged home stays also has an impact on a student’s home life.
“Of course, there will be psychosocial problems in schools but there are also psychosocial problems while a child has prolonged stay at home because the parents have always to see them. And now some information is coming out on quite series of psychosocial problems for children to stay at home,” the Education chief said in an interview with the Daily Tribune’s online forum, Straight Talk.
Briones said that many students still prefer to have face-to-face classes over the distance learning modality.
“That is why I’m not surprised when I get information from children that they would want to be taught by teachers,” she stated, adding that staying at home also means there are a lot of distractions in the child’s learning process.
“I have read the responses of the students to a home teaching and they recognize and admit these difficulties. There are many distractions because when you are at home you can do a lot of things and I’m sure you have also undergone in any work described as skeleton force where you stay at home, you work at home but the degree of work and output that you were be able to produce might be different from what you were able to do when you are in a proper office because there are also many other tempting tasks to do also at home,” she explained.
Briones said her agency has conducted a survey showing students as strong supporter of the face-to-face learning.
“We surveyed over a million respondents and generally the children said they prefer to be in school,” she noted.
Briones further remarked that with the commencement of the government’s mass inoculation initiative against the dreaded viral disease, the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on the Management of Emerging Diseases and local government units to reconsider and approve DepEd’s proposed in-classroom learning it its pinpointed pilot test areas.
Meanwhile, the Philippine Business for Education (PBEd) called on the government to open schools in areas where the risk of Covid-19 transmission is low, as the prolonged closure of schools will be disastrous for the country’s education system and economy.
“Our country is already in a learning crisis, and the longer we wait for our schools to open, the heavier the losses will be for our students and the economy. We appeal to the government to find ways to open schools safely so that our students can resume their learning,” PBEd Executive Director Love Basillote said in an earlier statement.
PBEd’s statement comes as Malacañang rejected DepEd’s recommendation to resume face-to-face classes in the country. President Rodrigo Duterte was quoted as saying that he does not want to endanger the lives of students and teachers since the country has yet to roll out its national vaccine plan.
“Let’s be clear, we don’t want to endanger the lives of our teachers and students either. But if we can safely reopen the economy following health guidelines and protocols, what is preventing us from safely reopening our schools? We have around 3 million students who have dropped out of school this year because they cannot keep up with learning requirements. With no alternatives left, we are abandoning a generation of young people. This has a grave impact on national development,” Basillote said.
She said the Philippines can look at models of safe reopening of classes abroad – those informed by science and are limited to areas where the prevalence and transmission rates of Covid-19 are low.
Basillote added that it is important to look at the issue from a bigger perspective, given the link between the country’s education sector and the economy. Students who have dropped out of the school system will find it difficult to find employment opportunities, as companies look for candidates with credentials and specific skills sets. Companies, on the other hand, cannot operate without a skilled workforce.
“We cannot expect an economic expansion with our companies going under because they cannot find skilled workers,” she said.
In a televised briefing last week, DepEd said more than half of students in the country are calling for the resumption of face-to-face classes because they believe they will benefit from it.
Results of a survey conducted late last year by education group Aral Pilipinas among 9,716 Filipinos also showed that 75 percent of respondents agreed with the resumption of face-to-face classes. Of the 7,297 who said yes to opening of schools, 53 percent believed that children learn better with face-to-face classes. Most of the respondents came from poor families, as 92 percent of them were beneficiaries of the government’s conditional cash transfer program.