MANILA (UPDATE) — President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. on Monday stressed on the need to provide Filipino students with better internet connectivity and devices to help them "participate fully in the digital community."
In his first State of the Nation Address, Marcos called for an end to "the horror stories that we've heard about the poor quality of education materials and supplies that are being given to our schools."
"Our children must always be equipped with the best that we can provide," he said, adding that the government would not be stingy or wasteful with education spending.
"I'm talking about materials that are necessary for effective teaching in this day and age. Children now need connectivity to the internet, they need devices to use, they need computers, educational tools so that they might participate fully in the digital community here and abroad," Marcos said.
Marcos added his administration would provide "refresher courses and retraining for teachers so they can stay abreast of the rapid growth in technology, especially in this post-pandemic world."
In early 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic forced schools to implement distance learning, but many families found this shift difficult, citing the lack of adequate internet connectivity and gadgets.
Acknowledging the challenges of distance learning, the government began to reopen basic education schools for limited in-person classes in November 2021.
Earlier this month, Education Secretary Sara Duterte ordered all schools to resume in-person classes at full capacity starting Nov. 2 — a move that Marcos agreed with.
"I believe it is time for our children to return to full face-to-face classes once again," Marcos said in his SONA.
"We must ensure that our classrooms are safe for students and the entire academic community when they return to face-to-face classes," the chief executive said, urging the public to get booster shots against COVID-19 in preparation for classroom sessions.
Marcos added that the shortage of classrooms must also be addressed in coordination with the Department of Public Works and Highways.
IMPROVE INT'L RANKINGS
In his SONA, Marcos also said the country "must do better" in international learning assessments, "especially when it comes to the so-called STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) subjects."
"These (STEM) skills, these knowledge are necessary for our young people to be able to compete in a highly technological and competitive world," he said.
Filipino students showed poor performance in recent international learning assessments such as the 2018 Programme for International Student Assessment, and the 2019 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study and Southeast Asia Primary Learning Metrics.
The poor rankings have led to criticisms of the K-12 curriculum, which is currently undergoing a review.
"We are giving this careful review and all necessary inputs and points of view are now being considered," Marcos said.
Regarding the medium of instruction in schools, Marcos said it must be "continuously reexamined" while maintaining the "advantage that [Filipinos] have established as an English-speaking people."
"Foreign employers have always favored Filipino employees because of our command of the English language. This is an advantage that we must continue to enjoy," he said.