President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday repeated his stand that “no vaccine, no school,” saying he doubted the Philippines was ready to hold online classes as an alternative mode of learning while it battled the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said Education Secretary Leonor Briones had a good program to let students continue their education while staying at home, but he doubted if the Philippines was ready to implement it.
Millions of children were supposed to return to school on Aug. 24 after classes for more than 25 million primary and secondary students were shut down in March due to COVID 19.
The Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases approved the proposal of the Department of Education to move the opening of classes for basic education to Aug. 24, with the school year ending on April 30 next year.
But Duterte said if the technology to fight the pandemic was there and the government could afford it, the Department of Education could proceed with its plan.
“Secretary Briones is insisting there should be an alternative and she has a very good program for that. It’s like teleconferencing,” Duterte said.
“The technology is good, but I don’t know if we’re ready for that. Meaning to say, if we have enough of those for the whole Philippines.
“We’re talking students. Does she have the technology already? If she has, if we can afford it, we’ll buy it and she can proceed with her novel idea on how the children will continue their education.”
Duterte said he could not allow students to go back to school unless a vaccine or cure for COVID-19 was there.
“We really have to wait for the vaccine. No vaccine, no schooling,” he said.
“Should you require any help from any of the departments, feel free to communicate [with] them. If it’s a question of funding, I will scrape the bottom of the barrel.”