Lopez: Let’s prioritize early years

“The learning crisis is real and it is here today. We must act together. We must act fast and we must act now.”

These are the closing words of Rina Lopez, President and Executive Director of Knowledge Channel Foundation (KCFI) during a virtual online forum organized by the National Teacher’s College and Philippine Business for Education last June 1 with the title “Tackling the Philippine Learning Crisis Together.” The two hour discussion featured insights from former DepEd Secretary Br. Armin Luistro, Dir. Jocelyn Andaya of the Department of Education and KCFI President Rina Lopez.

The virtual discussion aimed to shed light on the learner’s crisis gripping the country today and further exacerbated by the COVID-19 Pandemic. According to Luistro, children are faced with various challenges, “SEA-PLM noted that 65% of learners are bullied. Even when I was in DepEd, this is one of the figures that we were monitoring, and that is why there was this Zero Bullying Law, but also a lot of programs run by the schools. But it is a growing concern. Obviously in the pandemic, that has also shifted to cyber bullying.” Luistro also added that “Even among private schools, one growing concern for us in the Philippines is really mental health. We had an internal study in one of our schools and around 5000 plus students, 3600 or 70% of our students said that they experience mental health difficulties.”

Department of Education Director from the Bureau of Curriculum Development Jocelyn Andaya also emphasized “As countries continue to navigate the pandemic, governments and societies need to take stock of progressed achieved in prevailing gaps in distance education delivery. This reflection will act as a building block, not only for a more informed short-term response in a context of disruption, but also towards a richer, more flexible type of education delivery, able to cater to different students’ needs over the mid and longer term.”

Lopez on the other hand, focused her talk on Early Childhood Development and Primary Grades Learning, sectors of which she emphasized lack of the support it truly needs. “Kids aged 0 to 8, these are the critical years of their brain development, and the time when they are learning fundamental skills in reading and numeracy. Yet, in the education sector, this is an underserved group, highly affecting and affected by the learning crisis.”  Lopez also added that “If early in their lives we can make a huge difference, imagine the impact it will make later on, not only for them and their families, but also for us and for our country. In the whole education continuum, it is not just DepEd, CHED, and TESDA, but we need to include Early Childhood Care and Development – the ECCD Councils, CWC, and all, because learning starts on day one of a child, and even before that.”

The KCFI chief also left the audience with three key action points in solving the learning crisis stating:

  1. Wholistic efforts in Early Childhood Development is critical. Addressing nutrition, health, social protection, and the early learning of children 0-8 years old is essential to the development of a whole child and to the sustainability of our country.
  2. Building the capacity of our childhood care providers and our teachers especially those who care for the 0-8 year olds is essential. Training and mentorship are very important as well as opening opportunities for them to continue learning in their field.
  3. Utilizing and maximizing technology especially in the use of videos as a way to continue learning. Technology helps make learning more flexible, allowing learners to adapt and personalize their learning no matter the situation.

(With contributions from Patricia Jaimee Protacio)

About Knowledge Channel Foundation Inc.

Knowledge Channel Foundation, Inc (KCFI) is a non-government, not-for-profit organization that works to help uplift the life of the Filipino through media and technology. Specifically, it develops and distributes curriculum-based multimedia learning resources (such as videos, games, session guides, etc.) for preschool, K-to-12, and the Alternative Learning System, online, on-demand, and on-air via the Knowledge Channel shown in the various platforms all over the Philippines. It also implements professional development programs for teachers and education leaders.

Since 1999, KCFI has been transforming classroom experiences into unique and engaging learning journeys.