Senator Pia S. Cayetano is pushing for the inclusion of Physical Education (PE) among the classes to be offered under the Department of Education’s (DepEd) proposed blended learning modalities for the ‘new normal.’
“Physical well being is something we cannot simply set aside, especially in this time of COVID-19. We need to keep promoting physical education and regular exercise among our children,” Cayetano said.
The senator made the statement on Thursday (May 14) at the virtual hearing of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts, and Culture on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the country’s education system.
During the hearing, Cayetano urged DepEd officials to come up with innovative ways to ensure that PE subjects will continue to be taught to students and tailored for different grade levels.
The senator pointed out that various media platforms, including television and the internet, can be used as tools for this purpose, being key components of blended learning. She added that students need not leave their homes to be encouraged to exercise.
She suggested educational programs that promote regular exercise among children, as this could lead to many health benefits and potentially prevent respiratory illnesses.
“Physical education does not have to take up too much space. Government channels can easily air these kinds of shows for students. There are many things that can be done. What matters is we do not disregard PE, and the need to teach our children the importance of taking care of their health while at home,” she added.
DepEd, for its part, informed the Senate panel that it is in the process of coordinating with private sector partners in preparing downloadable videos that teach kids how to learn certain sports and other physical skills.
Meanwhile, Cayetano also pressed DepEd to fast-track its plan to seek assistance from the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) in using government-run television and radio stations as platforms for delivering lessons during the pandemic.
Tapping state-run channels, including PTV 4, to air educational shows for children was among the recommendations that the senator forwarded to the executive department following the President’s weekly reports to Congress.
Cayetano said that she has repeatedly cited in the Senate’s weekly comments the need to use government TV stations to air educational shows. “The concerned agencies should be coordinating with each other about that by now… Can we get a follow up on that?” she asked DepEd, adding that the agency should take charge of deciding which types of programs PCOO would air in their channels.
“We need to secure the best content for our students. There are many materials out there. But just like textbooks, these need to be filtered. In fact, my suggestions were very detailed to the effect that you have time slots for different age groups: from preschool- to college-level programs,” she noted.
DepEd then assured the panel that it is now finalizing specific strategies to make this proposal possible, including converting educational materials into scripts for TV- and radio-based instructions.
Finally, Cayetano reiterated the need to adopt a Futures Thinking approach in addressing the challenges in basic education, following the disruption caused by COVID-19.
“We have to look into [all possible] futures. This really requires long-term planning, and it never happens at the level that we are discussing it if we are always in the now. That is precisely why I funded the Futures Thinking division in DepEd so that we can plan in this way,” said Cayetano, who chairs the Senate Committee on Sustainable Development Goals, Innovation, and Futures Thinking.
“This is not just for June. This is not for the opening of classes, this is for the long-term quality of our children’s education,” she added. #