Robredo pushes for small face-to-face classes in communities with no COVID-19 transmission

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FILE PHOTO. Vice President Leni Robredo

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 25) — Vice President Leni Robredo on Friday called for limited face-to-face classes in areas with no community transmission of COVID-19 to make sure children are not deprived of education.

Robredo shared the concern that the families of some students have no capacity to guide them under the blended learning system that will be used in public schools this coming academic year. Basic education classes resume on October 5 using a mix of radio, television, online and modular learning as the coronavirus health crisis continues.

Maraming mga lugar na coastal, maraming mga lugar na bukid na wala naman doong community transmission. Kung ipipilit mo iyong modular, baka nasasakripisyo natin iyong uri ng edukasyon na nakukuha ng mga learners,” Robredo said in an interview on Friday. A transcript of the interview was released by her office.

[Translation: There are many coastal and farm areas that have no community transmission. If you insist on the modular (system), the quality of education learners would receive might be compromised.]

The Vice President said her office would release a list of areas with zero community transmission where small-scale classes can be held. She said the Department of Education should base its decisions on the data and risk assessment.

“Huwag i-limit sa blended learning lahat, kasi iyong sinasabi ko nga (We should not limit everything to blended learning because as I said), in communities where there is zero community transmission, baka naman pwedeng magkaroon na ng face-to-face (maybe there could be face-to-face classes),” she said.

Some logistical challenges would also be addressed if coronavirus-free areas would hold traditional classes, Robredo said. She noted DepEd's earlier statement that students will have to share self-learning modules, which will be distributed from one learner to another, due to lack of budget.

"Para kasi sabihin na lahat blended, na hindi naman kailangan lahat, baka nagsasayang tayo ng sobrang dami na resources," Robredo said. "Hindi natin siya naba-budget nang maayos."

[Translation: We might be wasting a lot of resources by insisting on blended learning for all when there's no need for it. The fund is not budgeted well.]

President Rodrigo Duterte has banned face-to-face classes in the whole country until a COVID-19 vaccine becomes available. Once a vaccine is discovered, the government expects widescale distribution by April 2021. However, Robredo has been calling on the government to stop waiting for a vaccine, offering recommendations on dealing with the pandemic in the absence of a cure or a viable vaccine.