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PHL education faces increasing challenges due to climate change



PHL education faces increasing challenges due to climate change

By means of Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza, News reporter

SINGAPORE – The Philippines must tailor its approach to education challenges locally given its archipelagic nature, a United Nations expert said, as climate change and other emerging risks are disrupting classrooms across the country and slowing the country’s learning recovery.Ffortresses after coronavirus pandemic.

Education governance at the local level should be the route for countries highly vulnerable to weather and climate disruptions, Mituse Uemura, education advisor at the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) East Asia and Pacific Regional Office, told Business on the sidelines of the Asia Philanthropy Summit here Tuesday.

“There are a number of things we have learned during the pandemic, including taking context differences into account. The context varies from place to place,” she says.

“A localized approach is needed, especially in the context of the Philippines because there is enormous diversity in terms of geographical locations and also climate.”

The Philippines was one of the last countries to reopen schools following the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. UNICEF said the lack of preparation in the face of changing climate conditions threatens the progress of the country’s learning recovery efforts.

The National Economic and Development Authority said in 2021 that the lack of in-person education for a year during the pandemic could result in more than P11 trillion in lost productivity over the next four decades.

The Philippines has recently seen class disruptions in many areas due to extreme heat. Official figures from April 5 show that at least 3.6 million students have been affected by the suspension of classes at 5,000 schools.

The Education Department has given school principals the power to decide when to switch to remote learning “in case of extreme heat and other emergencies.” Philippine lawmakers, meanwhile, are discussing whether or not it is necessary to return the country’s old academic calendar.

According to the 2022 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), Filipino students continue to rank among the weakest in the world in math, reading and science, with the Philippines ranking 77th.e from 81 countries and performs worse than the global average in all categories.

The Philippine government recently included in its list of priority legislation a bill that aims to establish a national learning intervention program to accelerate the recovery of learning losses incurred during the pandemic.

Myo-Zin Nyunt, Deputy Director of UNICEF East Asia and Pacific Regional Office, said that more than half of Grade 5 children in the Asia-Pacific region cannot read and write properly even years before the pandemic, a situation that has probably worsened as a result of the health problems. crisis and ongoing threats from climate change.

In the Philippines, the rate was 90%, according to UNICEF data.

“Learning losses existed before COVID-19. Children go to school but never learn the way they should learn,” Mr Nyunt said Business.

“And the Philippines, for example, had the longest school closure. The Philippines closed schools for almost two years. So that has really exacerbated learning loss,” he said, adding that climate change is exacerbating learning poverty.

In light of these risks, the Philippines should pursue a decentralized education system, in which schools and other sectors at the local level take on important decision-making roles, Ms. Uemura said.

“They don’t have to wait for something to come and then trickle down,” she said. “However, the Department of Education is really advised to provide guidance in some areas.”

But the pursuit of local education governance must be complemented by capacity building efforts, Ms. Uemura said. She added that local government units must be given the necessary tools to come up with data-driven decisions in the face of climate and health disruptions.

“At least it is some kind of tool to determine the level of risk to children’s health,” she said. “It’s something that the national government can actually help.”

While local governments may consider introducing blended learning in times of disaster, digital lessons should never replace face-to-face teaching, Ms. Uemura said. She noted that the rising number of students lacking soft skills does not bode well for future of the country’s workforce.

Meanwhile, Mr. Nyunt said the Philippines should implement — right now — a long-term program that would improve students’ green skills.

Installing solar panels in schools would not only prevent classroom disruptions during electricity-disrupting weather events, but would also promote climate awareness among students, who should be given green tasks, from managing solar panel battery storage to helping create a climate-friendly environment in the education. campuses.

“So if green skills are in the curriculum, the children will be familiar with them from a very young age,” he said. “And as they go to high school and college levels, they will become more active and aware.”

“They will become more aware and active, pushing for more climate-friendly policies for the government and seeking more green skills,” he added.

According to a recent report on Southeast Asia’s green economy, the Philippines still fell short of the more than $16 billion in capital investment required for the green transition.

The report states that the Philippines has no sector-specific emissions targets, and only four out of 10 major emitting companies have set net-zero emissions targets.

Mr. Nyunt said the Philippines has a very young demographic compared to its Southeast Asian peers, and the country must ensure that its youth learn green skills to help the Philippines in its sustainable ambitions.