Group urges gov’t to address education crisis
The Philippine Business for Education (PBEd) warned that the current learning loss threatens the country’s economic growth for years to come.
“Will our workforce have the skills they need to keep up with the changing business landscape? Will our industries thrive on the back of our future workforce? Let me tell you now: If we do nothing to arrest the decline in our education system, the answer to these questions is a resounding no,” said PBEd chair Ramon del Rosario Jr., citing what he said during a joint membership meeting organized by the group.
PBEd said representatives from other business groups joined the meeting on the current learning crisis, including the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the IT and Business Process Association of the Philippines and the Makati Business Club.
With the economy suffering a 9.5 percent slump in gross domestic product last year, PBEd said the groups in the online event warned that the learning crisis risked a slow economic growth in the years to come, threatening the country’s chances of a full recovery.
“It’s not unreasonable to say that if future members of the workforce are not receiving the proper education right now, they are not getting the skills they need to secure employment in the future. Our businesses simply cannot be competitive if they lack the skilled workforce that will help them thrive,” PBEd executive director Love Basillote said.
“In addition, the longer our students are kept out of school, the bigger their losses will be in terms of future earnings,” she added.
Thirty-three organizations, including business groups such as PBEd, are urging the government to put teachers higher in the priority list for COVID-19 vaccination in an effort to increase confidence in opening schools during the pandemic.
In a joint position paper, they estimated that the government would need to vaccinate around 1.3 million teachers and teaching support staff, covering public and private teachers in basic, tertiary and technical vocational courses.
While teachers are part of the government’s priorities for COVID-19 vaccination, they are not placed at the top of the list. The National Immunization Technical Advisory Group (Nitag) categorized the priority groups under letters A, B and C, with further categorizations under each letter.
For example, A1, or the top of the list, are frontline workers in health facilities such as health professionals and allied professions like nursing aides and janitors. A4, meanwhile, are front-line employees in “essential sectors including uniformed personnel” and essential businesses.
Teachers are under B1, according to Nitag’s Resolution No. 1 series of 2021. The organizations, which include business groups, medical group and academic institutions, said teachers should be placed in A4.
“While teachers are at an average risk level of COVID infection, vaccinating them increases confidence to open schools,” they said in the joint position paper, pointing out that the prioritization of teachers was “the common standard internationally.”
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