Manila, Aug 14 (efe-epa).- The Philippines announced Friday that the start of the school year, scheduled for Aug. 24, would be delayed again to Oct. 5, although only non-contact classes are contemplated for that date.
The Philippine Secretary of Education Leonor Briones announced at a press conference the academic year’s new date, which in the Philippines normally begins in June and has been postponed several times due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Teachers ‘organizations, parents’ associations and some legislators in recent weeks called on the government to delay the start of the school year for primary and secondary education so that the education system can adapt to distance learning.
The president, Rodrigo Duterte, has insisted that face-to-face classes will not take place in the country until there is a vaccine available.
The Philippine government announced Thursday that clinical trials of the Russian Sputnik vaccine, the first registered in the world, will begin in the Philippines in October.
The problem with distance education in the Philippines is that millions of families live without internet access, which is among the most expensive and most deficient in Southeast Asia, or do not even have electronic devices in their homes.
The Department of Education is making preparations to teach classes also on radio and television, as well as new printed materials, although it has said it expects 4 million students to be left out of teaching for the next course.
Some 23 million Filipino students have enrolled for the 2020/2021 academic year – up from 27.7 million the previous year – of which 95 percent (about 21 million) have enrolled in public schools.
In private schools, the enrollment figure has fallen notably, with only 1.5 million students, which is 36 percent from the 4.3 million last year.
The Philippines is currently the worst hit country by COVID-19 in Southeast Asia, with more than 143,700 cases and 2,400 deaths, and Duterte has suggested more than once that the country will not be able to return to normal until the vaccine is ready. EFE-EPA