Advocacy group Philippine Business for Education (PBEd) said that the national government and the Department of Education (DepEd) should give local government units (LGUs) the power to make decisions on the opening of classes for the next school year.
PBEd President Chito Salazar made the statement in a press briefing on Monday, July 5, when he was asked about how the government could improve the education system in the country during the pandemic.
Citing the COVID-19 vaccination drives of LGUs, Salazar said that some of them implement different systems depending on their situations and capabilities.
“One of the things we’ve seen in the vaccinations is that local governments play a [larger] role. It is really because the situations and conditions on the ground are different depending on the province, municipality, town, etc,” he said.
Salazar added, “We should empower local governments to make decisions regarding their opening of classes and how they should be run depending on their context and for them to play a larger role.”
President Rodrigo Duterte on June 22 again thumbed down proposals to begin a limited run of face-to-face classes in schools, citing concerns over the more transmissible Delta COVID-19 variant.
PBEd believes that there’s no “one size fits all” solution, and that no blanket policies should be applied in this situation.
“In a pandemic, communications and travel are restricted. It gets even more difficult for the central government to make timely decisions for the whole country,” Salazar said.
The same sentiment was echoed by a board member of PBEd and former governor of Sarangani province, Miguel Dominguez.
“The best person to decide would be the local mayor together with the schools division superintendent. Hopefully, DepEd and central government [can] decentralize and provide this decision to empower the mayors to decide on face-to-face classes,” Dominguez said.
The current school year will end on July 10. The DepEd had already proposed to Duterte three dates for the opening of school year 2021-2022: August 23, September 6, or September 13.
Meanwhile, the education department said it was preparing for a “better version” of distance learning system for the next school year.
Philippine schools have not had face-to-face classes for over a year now, with students and teachers forced to shift to distance learning. (READ: FAST FACTS: DepEd’s distance learning)
Distance learning, however, has been widely criticized, as the Philippines appeared unprepared for it. – Rappler.com