Enhanced 4Ps program, distance learning support urged
Schools have been closed in keeping with community quarantines and social distancing requirements meant to contain the transmission of the new coronavirus, keeping millions of children in their formative years from continuing their education.
Philstar.com/ Gladys Cruz, file
Enhanced 4Ps program, distance learning support urged
Czeriza Valencia (The Philippine Star) - September 29, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — An enhanced conditional cash transfer program alongside support for distance learning might be implemented to address the decline in enrollment in K-12, according to a policy brief by the Ateneo de Manila University.

In the policy brief titled “Urgent Need to Address Massive Drop-off in K-12 Enrolment,” economists Geoffrey Ducanes and Edita Tan said bold actions would be needed to stem the decline in school enrollment amid the pandemic, such as expanding the coverage of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) and continuing the school-based feeding program for undernourished students in kindergarten and elementary.

“The effect of COVID-19 on schooling is very complex and difficult to address. The impact is both on quality and access. On the issue of access at least, the postponement of school opening gives the government additional time to try to raise K-12 enrollment. But this may require bold actions, similar to previous policies which have successfully raised enrollment,” said the authors.

Schools have been closed in keeping with community quarantines and social distancing requirements meant to contain the transmission of the new coronavirus, keeping millions of children in their formative years from continuing their education.

Opening of schools have been repeatedly pushed back in response to the contagion, with President Duterte approving the proposal of the Department of Education (DepEd) to conduct not earlier than January 2021 limited face-to-face classes only in areas with low risk of transmission of the virus.

Ducanes and Tan said enhancing the 4Ps program would entail covering more households, particularly those that have recently fallen into poverty.

“Such a policy accomplishes two things at once: it increases K-12 enrolment and it provides necessary cash support to households in danger of hunger and poverty,” said the authors.

In addition, continuing DepEd’s school-based feeding program on a pick up or home delivery basis would help address under-nutrition and hunger.

To facilitate social distancing, food rations may be picked up by parents from schools or in barangay facilities.

While distance learning modes are being implemented through the use of modules and online classes, bridging the digital divide would be crucial to getting more children enrolled.

Ducanes and Tan said this could be done by building internet hubs in barangays, especially in poor communities, providing free gadgets for learning to low-income students with the help of telecommunication companies and provision of internet allowance. – Cecille Suerte Felipe

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