Robredo calls on gov't to declare education crisis

Robredo calls on gov't to declare education crisis
This November 2020 photo shows Vice President Robredo with a student during the launching of her office's Community Learning Hub in Pasig City.
Release / OVP

MANILA, Philippines — Vice President Leni Robredo on Sunday pressed government to declare an education crisis and respond to a learning experience in the country which she said was worsened by the coronavirus pandemic. 

Her comment came days after the World Bank took down its report that 80% of Filipino students do not meet the learning standards for their grade level. 

The multilateral lender apologized for inadvertently publishing its findings before giving the Department of Education time to respond. 

In her weekly radio show, Robredo said officials' concern should be on addressing gaps identified in the report. She noted, too, that the World Bank was sorry for the early release but not because its data was wrong. 

"We should declare an education crisis because our problems only grow worse when we are slow to react," Robredo told dZXL in FIlipino. "Rather than being defensive, we should be looking for solutions."

The vice president's call was not the first in the country during the school year amid COVID-19.

Several groups have raised the alarm over difficulties met by students and teachers which they warned could have an impact in the long run.

"Let's do everything we can to subvert this crisis," Robredo added. "It's the children who would really suffer if we don't do this."

DepEd had said that the World Bank used outdated information when it based its findings on three global assessments from 2018 to 2019.

The agency added steps have since been taken to respond to Filipino students' dismal showing in the international studies.

Robredo urged education officials to provide an update using their latest data to give a clearer picture on the situation in the Philippines.

She added many things can still be done based on doing the rounds from her office's Community Learning Hubs across the country.

"Children have been away from school for more than a year now," the vice president said. "So I think this has been exacerbated or the situation has grown worse. I hope I am wrong."

DepEd's chief of staff Usec. Nepomuceno Malaluan sought to respond to Robredo's remarks, saying the agency's reforms would continue. 

"We call it a challenge, they call it a crisis," he wrote on Twitter. "Past administrations could have set the baseline, and declared it, but didn't. Anything goes in political season, but we push on with the reforms."

The first year of distance learning in the Philippines officially ended on July 10. 

It would be the same setup for a new school year, as President Rodrigo Duterte continued to reject calls for limited in-person classes in areas with low COVID-19 transmission. — Christian Deiparine

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