Make ‘bayanihan’ work to revolutionize PH education for our youth

“The Bayanihan Spirit is called upon now more than ever to make education effective for our young children.”

Senator Pia S. Cayetano delivered this message to the country’s educators on Monday (June 1), as she called for a whole-of-society approach to address challenges to the basic education sector during COVID-19 and beyond.

Speaking before DepEd’s virtual kickoff program of the 2020 Brigada Eskwela and Oplan Balik Eskwela, Cayetano reiterated the importance of blended learning to ensure that no child will get left behind in receiving quality education during the ‘new normal.’

“The urgent task at hand [is] the delivery of the education materials. So we are now rushing to set into place other modes of delivery because the usual physical classroom setting will not be happening anytime soon,” the senator noted.

“However, I’d like to include in the discussion that beyond the delivery of education is [the need to] reach every single child with the help of tools available to us, so we can optimize learning for each child,” she added.

Cayetano said this requires more than just shifting to a different teaching platform – from physical classes to online classes – but a comprehensive ‘blended’ approach, which will employ the participation of parents, teachers, and communities in delivering education to children.

The Chair of the Senate Committee on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Innovation, and Futures Thinking, Cayetano said educators can turn current challenges into opportunities to jumpstart education for the future.

“I support the initiatives and at the same time challenge DepEd to make the most of these challenging times and really revolutionize education for our young people today,” she said.

Senator Pia Cayetano: “Beyond the delivery of education is [the need to] reach every single child with the help of tools available to us, so we can optimize learning for each child.”

DepEd Secretary Leonor “Liling” Briones, for her part, echoed the senator’s beliefs, stressing that the agency shares Cayetano’s goal of approaching the sector’s needs using a futures thinking mindset.

Education Secretary Leonor Briones said the Department of Education shares Sen. Pia Cayetano’s goal of approaching the sector’s needs using a futures thinking mindset.

Meanwhile, Education Undersecretary Nepomuceno Malaluan also expressed his support for Cayetano’s message. He said there is now a much-needed opportunity to “really transform the [country’s] education system.”

“Hindi po tatalikuran ng ating pamahalaan at ng Kagawaran ng Edukasyon ang tungkulin na magbigay ng kalidad na edukasyon para sa lahat. Hindi lamang emergency response ito, kundi tulad ng sabi ni Senator Pia, kailangan nakatungtong din ito sa mas pangmatagalang vision at innovation for the future of the education system,” Usec. Malaluan stressed.

He said the agency is set to implement blended and distance learning systems in line with the agency’s goal of delivering quality education to children that is geared for the future.

DepEd Undersecretary Nepo Malaluan: “Tulad ng sabi ni Senator Pia, kailangan nakatungtong din [ang mga pagbabago sa edukasyon] sa mas pangmatagalang vision at innovation for the future of the education system.”

DepEd is preparing to deliver different learning modalities to children during the crisis, which include printed modules, online learning resources, and television and radio instructions.

Cayetano added: “I am so happy that [DepEd under] Secretary Briones and I see eye-to-eye on these ideas. But we need to be able to translate this into actual action on the ground with our teachers [and society helping as a whole].”

“I trust that in the weeks and months to come, [we can cascade] all this information and bring our educators up to speed so the knowledge that [our children] will receive outside of the classroom is maximized,” added Cayetano, the principal author of three laws on flexible learning, including the Open High School System Act (RA 10665), Open Distance Learning Act (RA 10650), and Ladderized Education Act (RA 10647). #

Message to the Oplan Balik Eskwela virtual kickoff program

I’d like to send my warm greetings to Secretary Briones and to my colleague, of course, Senator Win Gatchalian, to my former colleagues in the House of Representatives and to all the whole DepEd family and stakeholders who are listening and watching us today.

Magandang umaga po sa inyong lahat.

I want to keep this very brief, but I’d also like to instill in the minds of every educator out there, and that includes also myself as a parent, that truly, the Bayanihan Spirit is called upon now more than ever to make our education effective for our young children.

I know that the urgent task at hand appears to be the delivery of the education materials. So we are now rushing to determine and to set into place other modes of delivery because the usual physical presence of the teachers and the students in the classroom setting will not be happening anytime soon.

However, I’d like to include in the discussion – and I know, of course, the Secretary and the Usecs. are on this – that beyond the simple delivery of education is our perennial problem on reaching every single child. Because we live in a time where we have all the data analytics, we have all the information that we need, the data. Learning analytics is available to us. We can measure, we can collect, we can analyze the data about every learner in order to optimize the learning for each child. And yet, our country, like many other countries, not just us, [is] still teaching in the mode of a hundred years ago, where there is a blackboard, there is a teacher, and there are students.

And we need to get past that. I want to be able to use this crisis that we are in to jump-start the education of the future. I am so happy that Secretary Briones and I see eye to eye on this, the Usecs. that attend our hearings are on board. But we need to be able to translate this into actual action on the ground with our teachers. We need them to understand. Because even I continue to see that image of a blackboard, a teacher, and students. There’s going to be quarterly exams, and there’s final exams.

But we have all the data that tells us that the learning curve shows that some are advanced and fast learners, and some are slow learners. And we need to get away from that, the model that we have because it perpetuates the stigma against slower learners, when they may not even be slow learners at all, they just may have other intelligence, multi-intelligence that are not seen on the spectrum immediately.

And that is why I have been a proponent for blended learning and I also want to be sure that in our haste to set into place this new modalities of delivery, we do not simply deliver education in a different format, meaning from blackboard it became a computer. Because that is not blended learning. We really need to make use of every instrument that we have, including the parents… every tool that we have, the parents, the society, retired teachers, all the tools available to us to reach children. And especially those children who live in urban centers. The information and knowledge that they receive outside of the classroom is so abundant that we also need to help them filter this and maximize those learnings outside of the classroom to make it relevant to them in the classroom.

I read a study that said the Math curriculum of the United States is “turn of the century,” 1900’s. US na nga ‘yun, ‘no? I don’t think we can say that mas advanced tayo sa US. So I also have concerns of that nature. And I trust that in the years to come, or actually, in the weeks and months to come… Because when I… we have hearings, I know and recognize that the DepEd officials know this. It’s really a matter of cascading all this information and bringing our teachers up to speed.

So I believe that is the bigger challenge. Not simply the fact that our students will not be able to go to the classroom, but the reality that we need to be able to reach every single child and to be able to deliver education to them at each level that each child needs to hear, needs to understand.

So on that note, I do believe that the best time for the Bayanihan spirit to come alive is now. A lot of people know the reality that great things happen in the time of crisis, great ideas come about in the time of crisis. And so I challenge and I support all the initiatives of DepEd to make the most of these challenging times and really revolutionize education for our young people today.

Thank you very much and God bless you all! #

Sen. Pia Cayetano said educators can turn current challenges into opportunities to jumpstart education for the future.

Pia: Bike lanes to protect delivery bikers, open new income opportunities for bike riders

Building safe networks of bicycle lanes in the country stands to benefit frontline workers, including those in delivery services for food and other essential items.

At the same time, bike lanes could open new income opportunities for Filipinos as essential services sectors have been employing bike riders for their short-distance deliveries.

This was among the key takeaways of Senator Pia S. Cayetano from her panel’s first public hearing on proposals to accelerate policies promoting sustainable transportation.

The Senate Committee on Sustainable Development Goals, Innovation, and Futures Thinking, which Cayetano chairs, conducted a hearing on Thursday (May 28) to discuss with government officials, advocacy groups, and other stakeholders the need for a comprehensive infrastructure plan for sustainable modes of transportation, including biking, walking, and non-motorized transportation (NMTs).

Among the senator’s proposals is the immediate establishment of pop-up bike lanes and walkways in Metro Manila’s major roads, following the imposition of safety restrictions on the public transport system that prompted more Filipinos to turn to alternatives like biking or walking.

Grab Philippines President Brian Cu, who was among the resource persons in the hearing, supported plans to improve the country’s road network for cyclists, stressing that it would benefit the company’s delivery partners who use bikes.

Around seven percent of GrabFood and GrabExpress active rider-partners are cyclists, Cu cited. Currently, they are allowed to accept bookings within a 1.5-kilometer radius, which is half the distance allowed for Grab riders using motorcycles (3 km).

However, Cu noted that both riders take the same delivery time on an average, one of the reasons for which is the lack of access to safe pathways for those using bikes. He also raised the issue of safety for Grab bikers.

As such, he said Grab Philippines is supportive of current proposals being heard in the Senate on setting up networks of protected bicycle lanes in the country, to be utilized during the pandemic and after.

“We support this discussion about creating specific pathways for bikers, so they don’t have to worry about their safety on the road. [Moreover,] it will definitely help speed up travel time [for Grab bikers] and potentially increase the radius that they cover, which leads to higher incomes,” he explained.

He added that apart from benefiting existing delivery partners, the initiative could also encourage more Filipinos to be Grab bikers.

“Adding safer networks of roads and better paths [for cyclists] can allow more individuals to join our platform. They can join at a very low cost, but still make very decent living,” Cu said, citing that Grab bikers earn around 45 percent above the minimum wage.

Grab Philippines President Brian Cu: “We support this discussion about creating specific pathways for bikers, so they don’t have to worry about their safety on the road.”

Cayetano, for her part, backed Cu’s statement on the need to improve our road system for cyclists to ensure their safety as well as to generate new and more livelihood opportunities for Filipinos during this health crisis.

“I am sure there are many more opportunities that we can give for Filipino cyclists, one of which is through your platform. But there are a lot of unmet needs as far as delivery by bicycles is concerned. I am happy to hear [your inputs] and be reminded of the need to address these,” Cayetano said.

“Now is really the time for people to have income opportunities. And something as basic as decent and safe biking skills could provide jobs for them… We have to be able to support them with the right infrastructure,” she added.

Senator Pia Cayetano leads the public hearing of the Senate Committee on SDGs, Innovation, and Futures Thinking from her home with her triathlon bike in the background.

The senator recently filed Senate Bill No. 1518 or the “Safe Pathways Act,” which seeks to create a network of pop-up bike lanes and emergency pathways connecting people to essential destinations during the lockdowns, while still ensuring that physical distancing is maintained.

Moreover, adequate parking spaces for bicycles and non-motorized vehicles shall be set up in all public places, government offices, schools, places of work, and commercial establishments, including malls, banks, and hospitals.

Lastly, the bill shall mandate appropriate government agencies to prepare the permanent adoption of the established bike lanes, emergency pathways, non-motorized parking spaces, and other appropriate infrastructure, after COVID-19 is no longer a threat. #

Food deliveries by bicycle in Singapore. Building a network of bike lanes in the country could encourage companies offering delivery services to hire more bike riders for their crew.

Ensure safe pathways for frontliners, bikers, pedestrians

Senator Pia S. Cayetano reiterated her call for government agencies to come up with a holistic action plan governing the use of public roads and transportation during the ‘new normal,’ with priority given to frontliners and essential industry employees reporting back to work.

In an interview with One News’ Cito Beltran, the senator on Friday (May 22) talked about Senate Bill No. 1518 or the ‘Safe Pathways Act,’ which she filed this month to offer alternative modes of transportation and mobility for communities that are gradually being opened up following lockdowns due to the COVID-19 contagion.

Cayetano’s proposal seeks to create a network of pop-up bicycle lanes and emergency pathways that would connect people to essential destinations during the community quarantines, all while ensuring that physical distancing is maintained.

“It’s called the ‘Safe Pathways Act’ since our priority is to ensure the safety for our frontliners who need to get to work during this pandemic. Ideally, the safe spaces and priority lanes for those going to work through biking or walking should be color-coded or barricaded. [The pathways] may even directly lead to hospitals,” Cayetano explained.

She noted that major cities around the world are shifting to alternative modes of transportation, particularly biking, amid concerns that allowing cramped mass transportation systems could trigger a new wave of COVID-19 infections.

“All over the world, people are being more careful and authorities don’t want to risk resuming public transportation since the lack of social distancing leads to the faster spread of the virus. So we now have this golden opportunity to promote biking and walking,” she cited.

A cyclist and a long-time advocate of non-motorized transport, Cayetano stressed the need to set up safer pathways for bicycles and pedestrians as community quarantines are being lifted and public transportation is gradually being restored.

“It’s not just a matter of creating bicycle lanes, considering the way our streets are currently being used. Clear demarcation for cyclists and pedestrians is needed so they would not be eased out once there are more cars on the road,” she said.

She noted that during Tuesday’s hearing of the Senate Committee of the Whole, no less than Secretary Arthur Tugade gave senators the assurance that the Department of Transportation (DoTr) is including bicycles in its plan to establish safer transportation systems during the ‘new normal.’

“The DoTr gave assurance that they are handling it on a holistic level. Because if there would be no coordination involving other modes of public transportation, [then] it’s going to be hard to work because the space is limited,” Cayetano said, adding that the measure she recently filed is also in line with another bill she filed last year, the “Sustainable Transportation Act” (SBN 66).

SBN 66 promotes sustainable and alternative modes of transport – including walking, biking, and efficient mass transportation – to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, cut time and travel costs, and encourage citizens to take on an active and fit lifestyle. #

Healthcare worker uses a bike to get to her workplace.
Senator Pia S. Cayetano talks about her proposed ‘Safe Pathways Act’ (SBN 1518) in a video interview with One News/Agenda host, Cito Beltran
Cayetano’s proposal seeks to create a network of pop-up bicycle lanes and emergency pathways that would connect people to essential destinations.

Pia to DOT: finalize safety guidelines for tourism sector

Senator Pia S. Cayetano is calling for a detailed government action plan to help the country’s tourism sector adapt to the “new normal” following the disruption caused by COVID-19.

During the second day of the Senate Committee of the Whole hearing on Wednesday (May 20), the senator urged the Department of Tourism (DOT) to come up with a clear set of guidelines for the tourism industry, which should be in line with national and global health standards.

“The reality is, in order to get travelers and tourists to have confidence in our country, our health policies on COVID-related exposures should be consistent with what is set worldwide,” Cayetano said.

The senator also asked the DOT to start finalizing the guidelines for local travels. She said any best practices we intend to replicate from other countries should be properly evaluated to make sure they are effective and suitable in the Philippine context.

“There are practices out there that may be best for one country but not necessarily for ours. So we would like to know very specifically where any recommendation would come from so that we can assess. I know the pressure for our tourism sector to open up is there. I offer my support, but we also want to ensure that we keep safety in mind,” Cayetano noted.

“Maybe [the DOT] can identify the safe activities to do [in particular tourist destinations]. You may come up with strict guidelines early on so that when the time comes, whether it’s 60 or 180 days from now, we can be more ready and we don’t have to debate on it anymore,” she added.

As a response, DOT Undersecretary Art Boncato Jr. said the agency is set to roll out “omnibus revised tourism standards anchored on new normal standards, as espoused by the Department of Health and the World Health Organization, and also anchored on best practices all around the world.”

This covers areas of accommodation, tourist transport, restaurants, hotels, and tour guides, among others. The common themes expected to be included in the standards are protocols on social distancing, deep sanitation, protective gear, as well as investments of tourism stakeholders in health plans both for their employees and their guests.

In terms of accommodation, the DOT said it plans to mandate a maximum of double occupancy for all hotels. Restaurants, meanwhile, will be mandated to have a 50-percent occupancy for dine-in operations, Usec. Boncato said.

Sen. Pia Cayetano to DOT: “Come up with strict guidelines early on so that when the time comes [to open up tourism], we will be ready.”
File photo (2019): Senator Pia S. Cayetano meets with displaced workers of Boracay following the 6-month rehabilitation of the island, considered as the top draw of Philippine tourism.

Turn COVID crisis into an opportunity to shift to biking, walking, sustainable transport

Senator Pia S. Cayetano is urging the government to view the current COVID-19 crisis as a ‘golden opportunity’ to push for a shift to sustainable forms of mobility and transportation, including biking, walking, and other non-motorized means.

Cayetano stressed the point at the Senate Committee of the Whole hearing on Wednesday which tackled the status of government programs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We now have this golden opportunity to fast-forward ourselves into the future that should have been part of our present, which is the use of sustainable modes of transportation, including walking, biking, and other non-motorized vehicles,” explained the senator, a biking advocate and triathlete.

The senator said using a bicycle has particularly become essential for workers and frontliners because it offers a safe, efficient, and healthy mode of transport in the ‘new normal.’

She further noted that the current state of the country’s public transport system could not possibly accommodate the huge volume of employees projected to go back to work following the shift to modified enhanced community quarantine and general community quarantine status of several regions, including Metro Manila.

“We need more planning and coordination. [It is estimated that] 50-75 percent of the workforce can go back to work physically within a certain period of time. [But] there is no way that our public transportation, as it stands, can sustain them considering the [situation] we are in,” she explained.

“That is why the messaging and the planning for this shift to a sustainable program for transportation must be considered carefully,” she added.

In response, transportation secretary Arthur Tugade said his agency is ready to promote bicycles as an alternative means of travel during the new normal. He added that the Department of Transportation (DoTr) will submit to the Senate its detailed plan to implement this initiative.

The chair of the Senate Committee on Sustainable Development Goals, Innovation, and Futures Thinking, Cayetano has filed three bills promoting sustainable modes of transportation in the country, namely the Sustainable Transportation Act (Senate Bill No. 66); the Bicycle Act (SBN 285), and the Safe Pathways Act (SBN 1518), which seeks to set up pop-up bike lanes and emergency pathways for the use of frontliners and essential workers during the pandemic.
Meanwhile, Cayetano pressed various government agencies to fast-track the release of guidelines for the operation of public transportation, including the use of alternative modes of travel, in areas under community quarantine.

The senator has called on agencies including the Department of Interior and Local Government and the DOTr to hasten the issuance of guidelines for the use of public transportation, especially in Metro Manila.

“ [The plan] can elaborate what other agencies like DOLE and DTI, local government units, and groups directly working with companies can do to be more mindful of employees’ welfare while commuting to work,” Cayetano noted.

She said employees whose workplaces are within the immediate vicinity of their communities, like 10 kilometers below, should be supported to be able to walk and bike comfortably to work.

“We want to ensure that these people will be biking within a reasonable time, not three hours of biking per day. These are shifts made by other countries in the past. It requires a little bit more planning and rethinking. But this is the perfect time to do it,” she concluded.#

Cayetano: “The messaging and the planning for this shift to a sustainable program for transportation must be considered carefully.”
Cayetano: The COVID-19 crisis should be viewed by the government as a ‘golden opportunity’ to push for a shift to sustainable forms of mobility and transportation, including biking, walking, and other non-motorized means.
Cayetano: “The current state of the country’s public transport system could not possibly accommodate the huge volume of employees projected to go back to work.”

Pia to DBM: don’t slash SUCs’ budget for infra dev’t

Senator Pia S. Cayetano is imploring the budget department to ensure adequate funding for the infrastructure projects of state universities and colleges (SUCs) amid the urgency to realign government funds for the country’s COVID-19 response.
The senator made the pronouncement on Tuesday (May 19) during the Senate Committee of the Whole inquiry into the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Just to put on record my concern for our budget of higher education. They are very underfunded to begin with, and we’re very slow to provide infrastructure funding for our SUCs,” Cayetano told Secretary Wendel Avisado of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).
“If we look at the record, we give them funds not on a continuing basis, but based on a request that they make, which takes many years to be granted. And then we do not give the succeeding funds because we say that the project is already fulfilled. But we know that they get one project at a time, if at all,” she lamented.
The senator further stressed the need to prioritize education, saying that promoting innovations in higher education is essential in adapting to the ‘new normal.’ She added that supporting education is also aligned with the President’s directive to restart and accelerate the Build, Build, Build infrastructure program to reboot the country’s economy.
“It is really a deep appeal that I have for the administration to consider this because it is a win-win [solution]. We know [that the administration is bent on accelerating] Build, Build, Build. So why don’t we also keep building on infrastructure needed for higher education? We hope that we can really make it happen,” she said.
In response, Sec. Avisado assured Cayetano that the budget department will give prime importance to education in terms of budgeting.
The senator filed last year Senate Bill No. 64 or the Build, Build, Build Program for Education bill (Public Higher Education Institutions Act), which maps out a five-year priority infrastructure plan for the improvement of facilities in tertiary education.
She also filed SBN 62 or the ‘Educational Roadmap Act,’ which seeks to institutionalize an education roadmap that incorporates the needed skills and competencies that industries constantly look for in new graduates.
The senator said by ensuring proper funding for the infrastructure needs of SUCs, the government will not lose track of delivering quality education under Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 despite the pandemic.
“Saan po ba manggagaling ang innovation natin kung hindi sa mga kabataan? Futures Thinking, which is a different way of thinking, is really a skill and an academic pursuit [that requires that our students have access to quality education.] So it is really something that I feel strongly about,” stressed Cayetano, chairperson of the Senate Committee on SDGs, Innovation, and Futures Thinking.
The senator is promoting Futures Literacy among the youth to help the country prepare for future pandemics and other emergencies.
Last May 2, Cayetano hosted a virtual consultation with more than 80 SUC presidents from the Philippine Association of State Universities and Colleges (PASUC) to listen to their concerns and recommendations in pushing for alternative learning systems for tertiary students during the ‘new normal.’ #
Senator Pia S. Cayetano hosts a virtual consultation with SUC presidents from the Philippine Association of State Universities and Colleges (PASUC) to listen to their concerns and recommendations in pushing for alternative learning systems for tertiary students during the ‘new normal.’ (May 2, 2020)
Postscript:
In a letter dated May 20, the  Philippine Association of State Universities and Colleges (PASUC) thanked Senator Cayetano for her “efforts in tackling our pressing concerns regarding the continuance of the P17.3 billion Programmed Appropriations for Capital Outlays (COs) under FY 2020 GAA relative to DBM NBC No. 580.” 
“Your manifestations and inquiry during the Senate Hearing yesterday were truly reflective of your relentless support towards adequate funding of higher education for its transformation and resiliency during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. The way you emphasized the role of SUCs in the attainment of ‘innovations and futures thinking’ was remarkable. It heightens the need for greater funding support for higher education,” read the letter signed by PASUC President Dr. Tirso A. Ronquillo.
“It is with optimism that, through your representation, our request to Secretary Avisado will be favorably considered.”
Letter of the Philippine Association of State Universities and Colleges (PASUC) thanking Senator Pia S. Cayetano for raising the issue of the infrastructure budget of SUCs at the Senate Committee of the Whole hearing on May 19.

Don’t forget PE classes under ‘new normal’ curriculum

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. #

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.

 

Pia files medical reserve corps bill

Senator Pia S. Cayetano has filed a measure seeking to establish a national reserve force of healthcare professionals that can be immediately deployed in times of disasters and public health emergencies.

The senator on Wednesday (May 13) filed Senate Bill No. 1527, or the Medical Reserve Corps Act, which shall establish a Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) specifically trained to supplement the country’s human health resources in delivering urgent services to areas affected by disasters and health emergencies.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the weaknesses of the country’s healthcare system, among them is the inability to cope with the surge of patients needing medical care due to lack of medically-trained personnel,” Cayetano pointed out.

“Like a highly-skilled reserve force that has been trained to assist the standing and regular military force as needed, the country can likewise benefit from a similar reserve force for our healthcare system,” she added.

The MRC will be composed of licensed healthcare service practitioners, medical reservists of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), public health experts, scientists, and non-medical volunteers trained for health emergencies and other necessary services.

The medical reservists will be placed under the Health Emergency Management Bureau of the Department of Health (DOH), and will be given compulsory basic training and continuing training programs on responding to different national and local health emergency scenarios.

Under Cayetano’s proposal, the DOH may enlist the assistance of the AFP in organizing the paramilitary structure of the MRC for its efficient, effective, and swift deployment, and provide further training for medical reservists in disaster and emergency response.

The medical reservists can be mobilized to conduct contact-tracing and monitor suspected cases during disease outbreaks, help ensure quarantine measures, and provide logistics and manpower support for large-scale disaster and health emergency operations.

“The MRC may be mobilized partially or in full as may be necessary. All members when called to service shall continue to receive all pay, allowances, and other privileges and benefits from his/her regular employment during the mobilization period,” the bill read.

SBN 1527 also proposes the establishment of mobilization centers in every province, where MRC members can register for duty. The centers should be adequate enough to house the MRC members, equipment and facilities, and other supplies needed during their period of deployment. #

File photo: Senator Pia S. Cayetano

 

Futures Thinking will be crucial in the post-COVID world

“A Futures Thinking mindset is crucial in the post-COVID world.”

This was the key takeaway of Senator Pia S. Cayetano from the first virtual public hearing she conducted in the Senate which invited futures thinking experts who talked about the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and what the future holds for the Philippines and the world.

The Senate Committee on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Innovation, and Futures Thinking, which Cayetano chairs, held a hearing on Tuesday (May 12) to discuss with experts the necessary innovations and strategies in adapting to the ‘new normal’ amid the health crisis which severely disrupted lives, economies, and institutions across the globe.

“We all know that these are very challenging times for all of us. And it’s really important that the different sectors in government, our NGOs [non-government organizations], and private citizens are able to avail of the best information there is worldwide to help us better understand what it means to use Futures Thinking as a tool to effectively plan for the new normal,” Cayetano stressed.

Leading the panel of experts in the hearing was futurist professor Dr. Sohail Inayatullah, who was awarded the first United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Chairmanship in Futures Studies in 2015.  Also invited were Dr. Tuomo Kuosa and Saku Koskinen, directors of Futures Platform, a Helsinki, Finland-based technology company that specializes in futures thinking and foresight analyses.

The resource persons offered insights on how governments and decision-makers can analyze possible post-COVID outcomes based on available technologies and intelligence worldwide.

Dr. Inayatullah described the COVID-19 pandemic as a “hammer that forced us to change,” stressing the present need for people and governments to develop new skills sets that will help them thrive in the new normal.

“We are all in this situation together… We all have to learn new skills sets [and create] Futures Literacy, which will help us be far more prepared for the futures we wish to see,” he stated, adding that Futures Thinking brings together citizens, academic experts, political leaders, and businesses towards a shared vision of the future they want to achieve.

Meanwhile, experts from Futures Platform shared their expertise on the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in monitoring and detecting trends and phenomena that might have an impact on the future to help form sound action plans.

The team particularly created a free online radar where people can “view the world after COVID-19.” It displays a holistic view of the world after the pandemic, which shows various drivers of change and the latest news and updates on them. The initiative seeks to help decision-makers plan for specific futures that they envision. https://www.futuresplatform.com

“We believe in foresight as a process, a methodology, and a great way to navigate environments. There is a need to make long-lasting plans for the government and understand the future to the best extent… These are challenges we see globally and we try to address them through technology, expert foresight, and knowledge,” Futures Platform Sales Director Saku Koskinen said.

“This is why we created the Futures Platform as a technical solution,” he added.

Cayetano supported the experts’ view that Futures Thinking is an integral part of thriving in the new normal. She stressed that having foresight based on big data and technology can help policymakers get a better grasp of “ever-changing environments” and be more prepared to make important decisions for the future.

“This is why I strongly advocate Futures Literacy among Filipinos, especially among our decision-makers,” the senator noted. #

Senator Pia S. Cayetano presides over a virtual hearing that invited acknowledged futures thinking experts to talk about post-COVID scenarios and trends for the Philippines and the world.