Senator lines up measures to reverse ‘education crisis’

SEN. Sherwin T. Gatchalian, retaining his chairmanship of the Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture in the 19th Congress, is lining up the panel’s priority measures to promptly tackle, starting with the K-to-12 law embodied in Republic Act 10533.

“Addressing the education crisis will be the focus of the Senate Education Committee,” Gatchalian said, confirming he has filed an enabling Senate resolution paving the way for an inquiry into the implementation of RA 10533 the Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2013, or the K-to-12 Law.

The Senator pointed out that based on results of international large-scale assessments, learners are failing to master basic competencies and lagging behind their peers abroad.

Based on pre-pandemic data, he added, the World Bank estimates that learning poverty in the Philippines—which is defined as the percentage of children aged 10 who cannot read or understand a simple story—is now at 90.5 percent.

Gatchalian has lined up as top priority measure the Teacher Salary Increase Act, which aims to raise the Salary Grades of Teachers I to Teachers III. As the senator suggested, the new Salary Grades for Teachers I to III will be Salary Grades 13, 14, and 15, respectively—two Salary Grades higher than their current Salary Grades.

At the same time, the senator is pushing other measures from the 18th Congress that were refiled for the new Congress to include the Academic Recovery and Accessible Learning (Aral) Program Act and the 21st Century School Boards Act.

As proposed, the Aral Program Act seeks to institute a nationwide learning recovery program to address the impact of Covid-19 school closures. Gatchalian’s proposal seeks to focus on the most essential learning competencies in Language, Mathematics, and Science.

The 21st Century School Boards Act, meanwhile, seeks to strengthen local government units’ (LGUs) involvement in improving the quality and delivery of education.

Also included in the priority measures listed by Gatchalian for the incoming 19th Congress are the Arabic Language and Islamic Values Education, or “Alive,” Act, the Digital Transformation in Basic Education Act, the Senior High School Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) Act and the Mental Health in Basic Education Act.

“Under our proposed law, it will focus on responding to crisis in education and enable sectors to recover from the impact of the pandemic,” he added. -30-