Manila, Philippines – Since the opening of classes on Spetember 13, the Amihan National Federation for Peasant Women joined various groups and education stakeholders in calling for the safe reopening of schools. The peasant women organization also slammed the underfunding of crucial education programs in the proposed 2022 budget.
Amihan stressed that the state has thus far displayed complacency and negligence in its refusal to take gradual measures towards face to face classes, and that the budget cuts would only make the problem of dwindling access to education worse.
According to the government data, the budget’s meagre increase of 6% cannot adequately sustain the needs of Filipino students and teachers, especially if the online learning setup continues. The group highlighted that the budget also presented funding cuts for many essential programs. These include programs for Basic Education Facilities (down by P11.6 billion or 51.18%); School-Based Feeding Programs (P2.73 billion, cut by 45.05%); Flexible Learning Options such as ALS (P1.4 billion, cut by 8.43%); Teacher Quality and Development (P15.5M, cut by 78.07%); and IPEd and SPEd (P107.6 million and P32 million, down by 67.65% and 9.72% respectively).
“Without preparations, funds and concrete plans from the government to ensure the safe, accessible and quality education, the burden is left to the teachers, learners and their parents,” said Cathy Estavillo, Secretary-General of Amihan and Anakpawis Party-list.
“This opening of classes, peasant mothers will again face the struggles and hardships of their children’s distance learning. This exacerbates their already sorry state surviving the impact of Duterte’s lockdown that led to loss of livelihood, bankruptcy, and distress. The sector’s demand for gradual face-to-face classes is just and legitimate,” Estavillo added.
Amihan said that the key to ensure the safe opening of classes is for the government to provide bigger funding for education budget, urgently resolve the country’s health and socio-economic crisis, improve school facilities based on health protocols, guarantee accessible and quality education, protect and uphold teachers’ and school personnel’s rights and democratic consultation to stakeholders. ###
IN PHOTO: Peasant women mothers from Rodriguez, Rizal join call for #LigtasNaBalikPaaralan after a school year of hardship of parent & child with the distance and modular learning, and demand social amelioration or ayuda amid the pandemic.