Return of face-to-face classes to boost employment, economy: NEDA

Jessica Fenol, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 18 2022 11:11 AM

Students observe safety protocol inside the Ricardo P Cruz St. Elementary School in Taguig City, during the first day of the pilot face-to-face classes in the National Capital Region on Dec. 6, 2021. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/File
Students observe safety protocol inside the Ricardo P Cruz St. Elementary School in Taguig City, during the first day of the pilot face-to-face classes in the National Capital Region on Dec. 6, 2021. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA - The reopening of schools for in-person classes could generate as much as P12 billion per week and boost the country's employment rate, the National Economic and Development Authority said Friday.

As more schools return to face-to-face classes, parents will be free to work longer hours thus contributing to economic recovery, NEDA said in a statement.

There are about 60,000 public and private schools in the country, data showed. 

“We reiterate the need for the full and urgent resumption of face-to-face classes to maximize the benefits of alert level 1. This can increase economic activity by around PHP 12 billion per week due to the return of related services around schools," Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua said. 

"It will also free up the time of parents, one in four of whom have to skip or reduce work hours in order to assist their children with online classes at home,” he added. 

Although unemployment eased to 6.4 percent in January, the employment participation was hit by the mobility restrictions imposed early in the year due to the surged driven by COVID-19 omicron variant. 

The labor force participation rate slightly fell to 60.5 percent from 65.1 percent in January, data showed.

"Now that we have contained the spread of the virus and shifted to alert level 1 in most parts of the country, we look forward to an improvement in employment outcomes in the coming months,” Chua said.

Metro Manila and 47 other areas are under Alert Level 1 until March 31. 

Chua earlier said the country remains on track to meet its 7 to 9 percent growth target this year despite the rising prices of oil.

To cushion the impact of the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, Chua said the government would distribute some P6.1 billion in subsidies.

Economic managers have agreed that targeted subsidies is a better option than suspending excise taxes on fuel since the latter would result in over P100 billion losses for the government. 

Officials have also recommended a 4-day workweek to help conserve oil and reduce transport cost.

Prices of petroleum products have been rising for the past 11 weeks. 

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