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Senate Hearing to Address the Impact of Extreme Heat on Education and Remote Learning Challenges

The Senate committee on basic education in the Philippines is set to hold a hearing focusing on the effects of intense heat on schooling, amidst the closure of schools due to soaring temperatures across the country. Following the announcement by the Department of Education (DepEd) of the suspension of face-to-face classes at all public schools for Monday and Tuesday due to the record-breaking temperature in Manila reaching 38.8 degrees Celsius, concerns have been raised about the prolonged hot weather, exacerbated by the El Niño phenomenon and climate change, expected to persist until mid-May, according to PAGASA, the state weather bureau.

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, chairperson of the committee, highlighted that the upcoming hearing will also address challenges brought about by Alternative Delivery Modes (ADMs), including the lack of internet access in some households and the difficulties parents face in supporting their children with remote learning. Gatchalian emphasized that while some parents still prefer face-to-face classes, recent suspensions due to extreme heat necessitate a balanced approach.

The absence of air conditioning in many Philippine schools has raised concerns about students’ health and learning abilities in crowded and poorly ventilated classrooms. A survey conducted by the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) in 2023 revealed that 87% of teachers reported students struggling to focus on lessons due to hot weather, with 37% indicating that extreme heat exacerbated pre-existing medical conditions.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the academic calendar year in the Philippines was adjusted, running from August to May. DepEd is gradually transitioning back to the previous academic calendar, starting classes in June and ending in March. Senator Gatchalian urged DepEd to consider the possibility of a shorter timeframe.

With global temperatures reaching record highs and a rapid warming trend across Asia reported by the World Meteorological Organization, the increasing severity and frequency of heat waves due to climate change underscore the urgency of addressing the impact on education and learning.


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