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 University of the Philippines

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Educators and students from the University of the Philippines opposed a Senate bill that seeks to remove physical education and home economics from school curriculum.

The UP College of Home Economics (CHE) and College of Human Kinetics (CHK) have voiced opposition to the proposal of Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian to temporarily remove some subjects due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

Gatchalian, in a recent interview with radio dzBB, proposed teaching only “key subjects” such as Math, Science, English and Reading in the coming school year.

He specifically mentioned PE and home economics as among the subjects that may be removed.

But the UP colleges underscored the importance of the two subjects in the formation of students.

UP CHE said home economics is the most relevant subject in times of disaster as it enables families to navigate around a new way of living.

“Home economics is an equally essential subject because it teaches life skills that are beneficial to individuals, families and the larger community which, now more than ever, is necessary to the challenges brought about by the pandemic and the community quarantine,” read the statement.

“Teaching children proper home economics skills in areas of household resource management, consumer education, food preparation and preservation, hygiene and sanitation, nutrition, entrepreneurship and clothing will enhance their ability to cope with these changes,” it added.

Without home economics skills, the college said families would struggle to find ways to acquire and manage resources.

For its part, the UP CHK said physical education is an avenue for young Filipinos to get their daily physical activity.

“Aside from physiological and biological gains, physical education possesses the innate capability to teach movement skills that go beyond their utilitarian value and sports and recreation,” it said.

“Even in the guise of streamlining education in the midst of COVID-19, this is clearly a poorly studied proposal. Physical education also develops life skills toward self-management and optimal social functioning, self-empowering the individual,” it added.

No subject would be removed from the curriculum in the coming school year, according to the Department of Education (DepEd).

While the number of learning competencies has been reduced across all subjects and grade levels, DepEd Undersecretary Nepomuceno Malaluan said students would still study all subjects.

Malaluan said the agency has reduced the number of learning competencies from 10,000 to 4,000 as part of the ongoing curriculum review even before the public health emergency.

He said the move merged overlaps and removed the unnecessary competencies to give focus to the most essential ones.  – With Paolo Romero

PTV-4 partnership

Sen. Francis Tolentino, meanwhile, said DepEd should partner with government-run television station PTV-4 and the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to boost the reach of its distance-learning program amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“PTV-4, as a free TV channel, is an ideal platform especially to students who don’t have internet access at home,” the senator said at the hearing of the Senate committee on basic education chaired by Gatchalian.

“The NTC should be acting quickly as a bridge between PTV-4 and DepEd,” he said, adding that countries like China and Kenya are using their respective state-owned television stations as platform for distant learning for maximum reach.

NTC deputy commissioner Edgardo Cabarios agreed with Tolentino’s proposal, saying the NTC will issue a circular on the matter.

The lawmaker also proposed educational programs shown on PTV-4 in school gymnasiums, with the observance of proper social distancing.

The committee also tackled two of Tolentino’s other measures – Senate Bills 1457 and 1458.

SB 1457 seeks to grant the sitting DepEd secretary the power to defer opening of classes and shorten the school year during emergencies and calamities.

On the other hand, SB 1458 seeks to empower the DepEd chief to shorten the school year and mass promote students during calamities and emergencies.

The hearing also briefly tackled the expansion of the basic education curriculum, which is the subject of Tolentino’s Senate Bill 1460.

SB 1460 seeks to mandate the DepEd to develop a national education policy framework for online or broadcast learning delivery.

Under the measure, the expansion may include distance education and online learning, to address current and future developments that would require the recalibration of the “in-person” school system.

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