A Message of Support

on the occasion of the Ibabao-Estancia Elementary School’s

Quarter 4 Virtual SMEA Conference 2022

Delivered by Hon. Romulo P. Echavez Jr

No one will contend that more than monitoring and evaluation,

the previous pandemic school years have been tumultuous periods of

adjustment. What the UNICEF calls the learning crisis has translated to

millions of school children around the world suffering more their

reading and comprehension deficiencies and difficulties. We are told

that the world over, but especially in middle and low-income countries

like our own, “more than half of all 10-year-olds…couldn’t read or

understand a simple story” (UNICEF).

One of the most pressing matters that will face us and the

Department of Education is to address this specific dimension of the

learning crisis that has had a blanket effect on our school children.

Reading is the key to effective learning. If many learners remain

frustrated and instructional readers, it is safe, albeit saddening to

assume, that the same proportion will have stunted learning curves that

will continue to compromise not just their academic performance

where the reading problem has become most observable, but well

beyond that educational level.

The Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, through the

report of Juan Miguel Luz published many years back described our

country as “A Nation of Nonreaders” and pointed out that the effects of

relatively lower functional literacy rates can impair lifelong learning

and other life domains inseparable from it such as work. We are faced

with a grim prospect: Poor reading cognitively disables many Filipinos.

When reading proficiency and habits are not established between

Grade 1 and 3, the chances that the same nonreaders grow up to have

difficulties on the job because of it compound.

The problem continues to grow, no thanks to the pandemic. The

years of modular and hybrid learning have resulted in lost learning.

UNICEF reiterates, “The goal of all countries should be to ensure that

every child recovers his or her learning. To this end, it is essential to

strengthen initiatives such as the Pedagogical Leveling and

Acceleration Program, ensuring there’s a budget for that, expanding its

offerings and improving teachers skills.”

This can mean a multitude of things for SMEA 2022. For

teachers, it means that SMEA marshals “more investment, training andsupport for their work.” For parents, SMEA can help by giving them

access to resources so that they can better support their children who

already faced reading anxiety before, if not specific learning disorders

concerning reading comprehension. For the young people in schools,

SMEA can ensure, through the results of its monitoring and evaluation

that they obtain the quality education that they deserve.

The costs are inestimable. Globally, 21 trillion USD is expected

to be lost in lifetime earnings. As the COVID-19 worsens the global

learning poverty, 70% of 10-year-olds find themselves shackled.

SMEA has the role of turning the attention of the IATF and the

national government from a hyperfocus on health to “invest[-ing] in

education as a core part of the COVID-19 recovery.” In this regard,

and for sustained commitment at all levels of society, UNICEF gives

SMEA the RAPID framework, a “menu of evidence-based

interventions that education systems can implement to help children

recover lost learning, and to accelerate long-term progress in

foundational learning”:

R- reach every child and keep them in school. Based on subjective

assessment of schools’ pandemic experience, how can our school

heads link themselves to every child?

A- assess learning levels regularly. Working from adjustments made

in the first pandemic year, what can our master teachers do to make

sure this happens?

P- prioritize teaching the fundamentals. Based on monitoring data,

what topics can subject teachers concentrate on?

I- increase the efficiency of instruction, including through catch-up

learning. Learning from innovative interventions gathered by SMEA,

what effective methods should subject coordinators enhance?

D- Develop psychosocial health and well-being. From partnerships

forged with the private sector, as guided by SMEA, how can school

systems continue the effective delivery of mental health services to

those who desperately need them?

Magpatuloy sana ang ating pagmamatyag! Mapulot sana natin

ang mga aral mula sa ating pagsusuri! Maging malikhain sana ang

ating pagsaayos ng edukasyon para sa ating kabataan! I hope this

year’s SMEA allow our RAPID healing, recovery, and rebuilding as

one from the learning crisis.


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