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The Duterte administration deserves a failing grade for its preparations for the upcoming academic year, says student leader Raoul Manuel. In this episode, Mr. Manuel, president of the National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP), lists the union’s primary demands for the safe reopening of classes amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Naging insensitive at para bang nagde-daydream ang ating gobyerno — pinagpipilitan niya through its press conferences at iba-ibang mga briefings na siya ay handa. Hindi niya nire-represent ang hinaing at pangamba ng mga guro at mga estudyante at kanilang mga magulang sa pagsisimula ng school year,” Mr. Manuel tells BusinessWorld reporter Adam J. Ang. (“Our insensitive government has been daydreaming — it insists through its press conferences and briefings that it’s ready for the start of the school year. It doesn’t represent the fears and anxieties of the teachers, students, and parents.”)


Resources and settling school fees are the top concerns of students as the Philippine education system heads towards the new normal in the upcoming academic year

Energy and Internet fees should be deducted from tuition, said Mr. Manuel, who said that these charges become unnecessary if distance learning is instituted. 

Government, he added, should provide—or at least subsidize—devices such as laptops or tablets, and routers.

Maintaining a numeric grading scheme ‘isn’t realistic’

Given the pandemic and the distance learning scheme, Mr. Manuel believes that schools should shift to a pass-or-fail grading system, which, he says, is more compassionate. 

The Department of Education has already rejected this suggestion, despite the urging of students and teachers.

Still, Mr. Manuel believes that maintaining a numeric grading system and the usual attendance policies “isn’t realistic.”

The Duterte administration deserves a failing grade for its preparations for the upcoming academic year

The pandemic has exposed the long-standing ills of the country’s educational system, according to Mr. Manuel.

Resuming in-person classes will be difficult given that a classroom can hold as many as 60 students at a single time. “Matagal na nating pinapanawagan na dagdagan ang mga classrooms,” Mr. Manuel said. (“We have long been asking for more classrooms.”)

He added that the government should improve its capacity to provide free and accessible education.

Recorded remotely on August 15. Produced by Nina M. Diaz, Paolo L. Lopez, and Sam L. Marcelo.

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