Gatchalian affirms support for incoming DepEd admin; vows focus vs. education crisis

To effectively address the crisis hounding the education sector, Senator Win Gatchalian affirms his commitment to support and work with Vice President-elect Sara Duterte-Carpio who is set to lead the Department of Education (DepEd).

Duterte-Carpio took her oath of office yesterday, June 19, in Davao City.

For Gatchalian, who is set to retain his chairmanship of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture in the 19th Congress, the DepEd’s immediate priority should be the recovery of the basic education sector from the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact. The lawmaker cites the need to focus on improving the performance of the country’s learners.

To jumpstart the basic education sector’s recovery, Gatchalian is pushing for the full reopening of all schools, child development centers, and Alternative Learning System (ALS) community learning centers by August. Gatchalian also emphasizes the need to implement learning recovery programs focused on reading and numeracy to address learning loss.

“Sa pagpasok ng bagong administrasyon, tututukan natin ang pagbangon ng sektor ng edukasyon mula sa pinsalang dinulot ng pandemya. Makikipagtulungan tayo sa Department of Education sa pangunguna ng ating Pangalawang Pangulo upang mabuksan nang ligtas ang ating mga paaralan, at matiyak na maihahatid natin sa kabataang Pilipino ang dekalidad na edukasyon,” said Gatchalian.

Using pre-pandemic data, the World Bank estimates that learning poverty in the country for 2021 is at 90.5%. Learning poverty is defined as the percentage of children aged 10 who cannot read or understand a simple story.

According to a December 2021 report by UNICEF, the World Bank, and the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), learning poverty in lower-middle income countries like the Philippines will increase by as much as 10% points because of pandemic school closures.

Since Duterte-Carpio garnered more than 61% of the votes in this year’s national elections, Gatchalian reiterates that she has the political capital to implement the needed reforms in the basic education sector, including the decongestion of the K-12 basic education curriculum to focus on basic skills.

Gatchalian also cites the role of the proposed Second Congressional Commission on Education (EDCOM II) in addressing the education crisis. Among the powers and functions of the EDCOM II is to recommend the improvement in the harmonization of policies and programs of the DepEd, the Commission on Higher Education, and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority. (OSWG)

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