By Sydney Antoinette Alipao


The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) on Thursday warned that Filipino children will miss out on learning opportunities and will experience more adverse effects as the country is set to start a new academic year on September 13, still under distance learning.

"We must reopen schools for in-person learning as soon as possible and we must immediately address the gaps in learning this pandemic has already created. Unless we do, some children may never catch up," UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore stressed.

"As classes resume in many parts of the world, millions of first graders have been waiting to see the inside of a classroom for over a year," Fore added.

"Millions more may not see one at all this school term. For the most vulnerable, their risk of never stepping into a classroom in their lifetime is skyrocketing," she continued.

The agency has called for a partial reopening of schools and a safe in-person learning in areas with low risk of virus transmission again.

"The associated consequences of school closures – learning loss, mental distress, missed vaccinations, and heightened risk of drop out, child labour, and child marriage – will be felt by many children, especially the youngest learners in critical development stages,” said UNICEF Philippines Representative Oyunsaikhan Dendevnorov.

UNICEF also saw different factors that will affect the learning process of children at home such as scarcity in learning materials, lack of technological support, and the learning environment.

In a Philippine Star report, the UN agency, along with the World Bank and the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the organization prodded governments to prioritize three areas on reopening of schools: 

 • targeted programs to bring all children and youth back to school;
 • effective remedial learning to catch up on lost classes;
 • and support for teachers address learning losses and incorporate digital technology in their teaching

UNICEF stated that the pandemic has closed schools across the globe for an average of 79 days while the Philippine learning institutions have been locked for over a year.

“Other countries that have yet to decide to reopen schools are Bangladesh, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela,” UNICEF said.

Report source: Philippine Star