The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) expressed concerns over millions of Filipino children missing another year of school closure although the Department of Education and tertiary schools are conducting blended learning modalities.
Unfortunately, the Philippines is one of the five countries in the world that have not started in-person classes since the pandemic began, affecting the right to learn of more than 27 million Filipino students, the international body has announced.
The other four countries are Bangladesh, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela.
It must be remembered that last June, President Rodrigo Duterte rejected a proposal by the Department of Education (DepEd) to resume physical classes with most of the population still not vaccinated against COVID-19, especially amid the threat of the more infectious Delta variant.
If we go back to the pages of our history books, education is made the priority regardless of the situation.
During the Japanese Occupation, in the municipality of Ivisan, all teachers were requested to report and the Japanese-sponsored civilian municipal government reopened the classes under Japanese Military control. The Catholic Church served as a school.
Banana leaves were used as papers and pointed sticks and feathers were used as pencils. Niponggo was taught although English remained the medium of instruction. The teachers only teach Niponggo intensively when the Japanese officers are present.
The priority of the Philippine Civil Affairs Units (PCAU) installed civilian government was the resumption of normal classes.
With the organizations of PCAU provincial and municipal governments, Capiz acting governor Delfin Raynaldo with Pontenciano Kapunan, as the schools division superintendent, immediately reopened the schools in May 1945.
All those who enrolled before the outbreak of the war can be promoted to the next higher grade once they enrolled for two-month classes. Despite the lack of books and school materials, many Capisnon children availed the of remedial classes.
By July 1, 1945, all schools in the province opened for the new academic year, and education rehabilitation commenced. Some of the schools were rebuilt through the initiatives of the Parent Teachers Associations.
But the substantial rehabilitation not only of the schools but of other government properties was rebuilt through the Philippine Rehabilitation or the Tydings Act of 1946.
As the Delta variant is still posing a threat, the academic school will be opened on September 13, under a new normal condition.
It is a great challenge not only for the Department of Education (teaching and non-teaching staff) and students but to the parents and guardians who are not prepared for this kind of setup.
Lastly, regardless of what modalities the education will be using, history will tell us that children have the right to learn even under difficult circumstances because the future of the nation lies on their shoulders.*