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A year without physical classes to cost PH over P11 trillion in productivity loss for next 40 years—NEDA

By SAAB LARIOSA Published Sep 09, 2021 7:11 pm

The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) has estimated that the Philippines will face over P11 trillion in productivity losses over the next 40 years from the delay of face-to-face classes.

During a Senate hearing today, Sept. 9, socioeconomic secretary Karl Kendrick Chua shared that the lack of face-to-face classes “will limit the learning ability of a student” and “will have a permanent effect over his lifespan while he is in the labor force.”

NEDA has long pushed for the resumption of classes but has been turned down twice by the COVID-19 Inter‑Agency Task Force (IATF) amid virus surges and new cases of the highly contagious Delta variant.

In August they also forecasted that the country stood to lose over P150 billion per week that Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ), the strictest lockdown classification, was implemented from Aug. 6 to Aug. 20.

Nevertheless, Chua shared that the group “[remains] keen to pilot face-to-face classes in less risky areas once the surge is over and the Delta is addressed.”

NEDA's latest statement comes after the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) also called for the resumption of face-to-face classes all over the world.

UNICEF Philippines has long been calling for a “phased reopening” of schools and for world leaders to implement a comprehensive recovery response with a focus on the education sector.

In an August 2021 report, UNICEF Philippine’s recovery response made way to three key priorities:

  1.  Targeted programs to bring all children and youth back in school where they can access tailored services to meet their learning, health, psychosocial well-being, and other needs
  2. Effective remedial learning to help students catch up on lost learning
  3. Support for teachers to address learning losses and incorporate digital technology into their teaching

"While new variants are causing a rise of infections, UNICEF is advocating for a phased reopening of schools, beginning in low-risk areas. This can be done on a voluntary basis with proper safety protocols in place," the report reads.

In a Facebook post on Sept. 4, UNICEF also shared that the reopening of schools “cannot wait” amid the pandemic, along with the caption: “Our message to governments is clear: classroom-based learning must resume as soon as possible.”

The IATF is set to propose the resumption of limited face-to-face classes to President Duterte this month.

Over 100 public schools and 20 private schools are being eyed by the Department of Education for face-to-face pilot testing as they finalize joint guidelines with the Department of Health. The decision will ultimately be up to the president once the guidelines are presented.

As of writing, the country has recorded a total of 2.1 million COVID-19 cases, with the Delta variant now the most dominant strain in the country.

Banner photo from Unsplash