Teachers in the Philippines staged a protest on Tuesday demanding the safe reopening of schools, which have stayed shuttered this year due to rising cases of Covid-19.
The demonstrators converged at the gates of the Philippine House of Representatives in Quezon City on September 14, calling on lawmakers to allocate a larger budget to the pandemic-hit education sector.
Alliance of Concerned Teachers – Philippines Secretary General Raymond Basilio said: ‘The Philippines is fast becoming the world record-holder for the longest closure of schools during the pandemic. It’s infuriating that there is no proposed funding for the safe return of schools this 2022.’
By the end of September, only the Philippines and Venezuela will not have on-site learning, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund.
The Philippines begins its second year of ‘blended learning’ this September in light of increasing Covid infections in the country. The approach combines both virtual classes and physical handouts to facilitate students’ education.
But virtual classes are widely inaccessible in the Philippines, a third-world nation where many can’t afford phones or a stable internet connection.
Nancy Roldan, a sixty-two-year-old grandmother who attended one of several protests in the Philippine capital, said: ‘Children are not really learning from distance learning. We don’t have money to pay for internet. It’s hard enough to buy food.’
The Philippines is grappling with a new outbreak of Covid infections due to the Delta variant. As of September 14, 18,056 new cases were logged. A total of 2,266,066 infections have been recorded since the start of the pandemic, with 177,670 currently active, according to the Philippine health department’s latest bulletin.