MANILA— Resuming face-to-face classes could help boost the country's economy by P12 billion per week, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said Tuesday as 39 areas eased COVID restrictions to Alert Level 1.
In a televised press briefing, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Chua said education and in-person classes are among the drivers of the Philippine economy.
In his presentation, Chua said the resumption of face-to-face classes should be coupled with a high COVID-19 vaccination rate among children.
"As [the] vaccination rate of children increases, opening all schools for face to face learning will provide a big boost to the economy and improve learning and productivity of children," the NEDA chief wrote in his presentation.
"If we want a full recovery then hindi sapat iyong Alert Level 1 dapat bumalik din iyong face to face learning. Kasi, you know, 40 percent of our population are in the school age. So that is a big contributor to the economy," he told reporters.
At present, only 13.1 percent of some 60,473 schools are either preparing or already conducting in-person classes, according to Chua.
Expanding in-person classes, he said, would "increase economic activity by around P12 billion per week as services around schools resume, like transport, dorms, food stalls, school materials."
In October last year, Chua told lawmakers that the country had been “too narrowly focused” on containing COVID-19, and this led to economic losses.
During President Rodrigo Duterte's taped address to the nation on Monday night, the official said with 39 areas under Alert Level 1, it will benefit 62 percent of the economy and 48 percent of workers.
This also translates to P9.4 billion more per week of economic activity (gross value-added terms), P3 billion more in salaries per week, and 170,000 less unemployed over the next quarter.
Should the whole country be placed under Alert Level 1, the benefits will increase to P16.5 billion more per week of economic activity, P5.2 billion more in salaries and 297,000 less unemployed over the next quarter.
Video from PTV