Nearly half of the country’s schools have resumed in-person classes after more than two years of distance learning.

The Philippines was one of the last few countries to transition back to face-to-face learning after being hit by Covid.

But some experts say the prolonged suspension of in-person lessons has exacerbated the education crisis.

About 24,000 public schools in the country – or less than half – will implement five days of face-to-face classes.

Education officials say the rest will consist of a mix of in-person and online classes, at least until November, when all 27 million registered students are expected to go back to class full-time.

The education department said some schools will have to divide classes into shifts to avoid overcrowding due to lack of classes, due to fears that schools could turn into new virus hotspots.

Prolonged school closures are likely due to the rapid spread of the virus in a country where it is common for school children to live with parents and elderly grandparents.

In-person classes were replaced by online classes, printed materials and lessons broadcast on television and social media.

The Philippines saw one of the worst Covid-19 outbreaks in Southeast Asia, with nearly three million cases and nearly 50,000 deaths.

A covid lockdown and 200,000 unplanned children

On Monday, at Manila’s San Pedro Elementary School, sixth grade student Sophia McHillig said she was “excited” to meet her classmates and teachers after two years of Zoom lessons.

“We used to have fun and now I can have fun again,” the 11-year-old told AFP news agency.

Meanwhile, other children in uniform and wearing masks lined up to receive a dollop of hand sanitizer and temperature checks before being admitted to the school premises.

But concerns remain about the effects of online learning on children’s educational development over the past two and a half years, especially when students were already struggling to meet basic literacy standards.

A World Bank study last year said that nine out of 10 children “could not read a simple text with comprehension” by the age of 10 before the pandemic.

“Prolonged school closures, poor health risk mitigation and household-income shocks had the greatest impact on learning poverty,” the organization UNICEF said in a statement.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *