December 17, 2021 – The members of the Philippine Forum for Quality Basic Education (Educ Forum) offered valuable insights on school operational strategies and preparations as the Department of Education (DepEd) gears up for the implementation of the pilot face-to-face classes on November 15.

“We are trying to learn more things, more information about this going back to school. We would like to see what are the value-added of going back to school for our children, especially the smaller one as they were at home already for the past years and we want to see that they learn better if they go back to school,” Asec. Malcolm Garma for Field Operations and National Academy of Sports said.

Moving forward, the Department aims to develop policy on the learning environment post-pandemic, which will highlight new standards in the organization of class in the Philippines including class programs, time, allotment, pupil ratio, learning resources, learners’ support for instruction management, and mental health services.

Educ Forum partners from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) noted some crucial points in the success of opening schools in different countries such as social distancing, wearing of masks, investment in WASH facilities, disinfection, sanitation, vaccination of teachers and parents, random and regular testing, and having smaller class sizes and groups, utilizing technology, focusing on marginalized and advantaged learners and families, and continued support and services for learners.

Meanwhile, Ms. Jessica Sutter of the District of Columbia State Board Education underscored the need to utilize different channels of communication in the campaigns, given that information changes at a very rapid rate.

Dr. Natasha Yvette Ridge of Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi Foundation for Policy Research in UAE underscored that training, supporting, and investing in teachers is a critical path out of the pandemic.

Moreover, Dr. Ethel Agnes Pascua-Valenzuela, Director of Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO), recommended the following agenda for basic education: support for teachers and learners, COVID-19 prevention, monitoring guidelines, addressing learning gaps, and recovery fund.

“We must deepen resilience in education system to respond to the challenges brought by the pandemic. We must foster an educational environment that continues to address the needs of marginalized and most vulnerable members of the Southeast Asian education system,” Dr. Pascua-Valenzuela said.

Asec. Garma also congratulated the USAID and RTI for a relevant and timely Educ Forum series episode as the Department embarks on the implementation of the pilot physical classes starting November 15.

“Finally, we are here. And hearing the stories of our friends from the United States, United Arab Emirates, and the Dominican Republic just made us more optimistic that ours will also be a successful one,” Asec. Garma added.