Safe, Equitable, Quality and Relevant Education (SEQuRe) movement launched a “Bantay Balik-Paaralan” (BBP) campaign in time for the resumption of in-person classes this Monday, December 6, aiming to keep track on the nationwide pilot implementation of face-to-face classes in the country.
Initially, the Department of Education (DepEd) began with 120 schools, 100 public and 20 private schools, included in the pilot implementation on November 15. Meanwhile, DepEd announced that 177 more schools were allowed in the reopening face-to-face classes including 28 schools in Metro Manila on December 6.
SEQuRe movement convenor Mercedes Arzadon explained that the project would be needing the participation of various stakeholders to ensure the safe and quality health and education measures be addressed as the country gradually resumes classes amid the pandemic.
“So dahil nagbukas na at mayroong nagpa-participate sa face-to-face classes, kailangan natin ‘tong ma-monitor, mabantayan, para mayroon tayong basehan […] for scaling up,” Arzadon said.
[Since it has reopened and there are people participating in the face-to-face classes, we need to be able to monitor it, so that we have a basis for scaling up]
“Kailangan talaga ng multi-stakeholder, participatory monitoring endeavor. […] Dito, buong bayan ang makikisama at titingin sa mga resulta sa face-to-face classes. Ito ay magbibigay ng valid evidences para tayo ay makapag-demand ng safe, quality and relevant education,” she added.
[“We really need a multi-stakeholder, participatory monitoring endeavor. Here, the people at large will come together and look at the results of face-to-face classes. This will provide valid evidences so that we can demand safe, quality and relevant education]
Arzadon added that the campaign would further encourage stakeholders to monitor and report the quality of in-person learning experience, teaching strategies and health and safety concerns in schools that conduct face-to-face classes through their phone hotline, social media and email handles.
Accordingly, these stakeholders would be referred to as a “BBP correspondent” consisting of teachers, students, parents and other members of school communities.
Other sectoral groups expressed their support for the goals of the said campaign.
Former Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Partylist Representative Antonio Tinio cited the adverse effects of the remote learning setup to the rise of student drop-outs last academic year, distance learning issues and 90% “learning poverty” rate, emphasizing the public’s calls for resumption for physical classes.
“Nananatili ang ating paninindigan na napakahalaga na gawin ng gobyerno ang lahat para matiyak ‘yung ligtas na pagbabalik sa paaralan. Sa kabila ng reyalidad ng pandemya, kailangang gawin ng gobyerno ang lahat ng hakbang para matiyak na kahit may pandemya ay makakabalik sa paaralan ang ating mga kabataan at mga estudyante,” Tinio said.
[We remain adamant that it is very important for the government to do everything to ensure a safe return to school. Despite the reality of the pandemic, the government must take all measures to ensure that even with a pandemic, our youth and students can return to school]
Tinio furher emphasized on the five key measures needed for the reopening of schools, including weekly antigen testing, special vaccination drives, classroom retrofitting measures, mass employment of school nurses and allocation of medical funding in treating COVID-19 cases.
Dr. Julie Caguiat of the Council for Health and Development also spoke about the issue of mandatory vaccination for students amid the gradual reopening of schools.
“Sa totoo lang po, bilang public health measure at pampublikong programa, ang vaccination responsibility ay nakasalalay sa ating pamahalaan. Hindi po ‘yan pwedeng isalalay sa mga indibidwal at mga pamilya sapagkat maaaring malaki ‘yung problema na mas made-deprive at madi-disenfranchise ang mga estudyante, lalong lalo na sa mga lugar na malayo na alam na natin ang vaccination ay hindi pa lubusang nakakaabot. Usapin rin ang hesitancy ng mga ayaw magpabakuna, at ayan ay responsibilidad na dapat harapin ng pamahalaan,” Caguiat said.
[Honestly, as a public health measure and public program, vaccination responsibility rests with our government. That cannot be left to individuals and families because there may be a big problem that students will be further deprived and disenfranchised, especially in areas far away where we know that vaccination has not yet fully reached. . The hesitancy of those who do not want to be vaccinated is also a matter, and that is a responsibility that the government must face]