MANILA - As classrooms remained shuttered for a second straight school year, one of the country's most influential business groups called on the government to have a "clear path" to the resumption of face-to-face classes.
The Management Association of the Philippines said resuming face-to-face classes "is an urgent issue as online learning has been shown to be not as effective all over the world."
"Impaired learning capability will impact our youth, and consequently our country’s competitiveness, well into the future," MAP said in a statement.
The Department of Education on Monday called the opening of the 2021-2022 academic year a "success" even as students and teachers were still not allowed to meet amid worries over the spread of COVID-19.
The Philippines and Venezuela are the only 2 countries in the world that have not resumed in-person classes since the start of the pandemic.
"The government should establish a clear path towards the resumption of face-to-face classes, including vaccination of 12-17 year olds," MAP said.
President Rodrigo Duterte earlier said he won't allow in-person classes until schoolchildren get vaccinated.
The country however continues to struggle to ramp up its vaccine rollout. The government targets to fully vaccinate 71.1 million Filipinos by the end of the year but has so far only inoculated over 17 million as of Sept.12, after more than 6 months.
At this rate, ABS-CBN Data Analytics head Edson Guido estimates the government will hit its target only by July next year.
Meanwhile, MAP said it welcomes allowing more mobility for the vaccinated and that it hopes this can be expanded further in the future to allow a full and safe reopening of the economy.
"Granular lockdowns will work only if we have timely testing and tracing so we urge the government to focus on rapidly improving our testing, tracing, and isolation capabilities," the group added.