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
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.