Remarks by Behzad Noubary, UNICEF Philippines Deputy Representative, at the Stakeholders' Convergence: UN Transforming Education Summit 2022 hosted by the Department of Education

as prepared for delivery

05 August 2022

I would like to start congratulating the Department of Education (DepEd) and the BARMM Ministry of Basic, Higher and Technical Education (MBHTE) for a successful process of consulting with hundreds of students, teachers, and parents, listening to their voices and innovative ideas on what it means to recover learning and reimage education.  

The grassroots consultations we have witnessed as part of the TES will be an example for the rest of world in building proposals and commitments and putting students, teachers and education professionals at the heart of the discussion. The voices and meaningful participation of children, parents and education partners are shining examples and key to developing a shared vision of how to transform education.  

I have had the privilege of being a teacher in rural west Africa when I started my career in international development. My personal experience allowed me to better understand how holistic the process of education is and how immense the challenges can be.  

Every child has the right to learn. This has been the battle cry of UNICEF and education advocates around the world and it’s in our mandate to work with governments and organizations in the education sector, so every child receives quality education. True collaboration and the mobilization of partners and stakeholders is key to recover pandemic-related learning loss, closing the gaps in education, and transforming the education system. After all, the education of children is a social responsibility. It is a shared priority in every society.  

UNICEF is honored and proud to have supported DepEd in conducting the consultations. Through listening to the participants’ experiences and observations, we were able to gather insights and suggestions on how we can improve the education system. Their recommendations can guide decision makers and education partners to work effectively on the transformation of the Philippine education system.  Based on what we’ve heard and gobal experience, I would like to highlight 5 key recommendations:

  1. Re-open in-person leaning - We commend DepEd for releasing DepEd Order 34 which provides clear and practical guidance and measures on how schools can prepare to safely conduct in-person classes. It is the most crucial action to mitigate learning loss. In-person interaction in schools, pre-schools and kindergarten promotes children’s emotional and cognitive development. Teacher-learner interaction is needed for the competency development of the learner. The reopening of all learning spaces is vital for cognitive stimulation, socio-emotional development, socialization skills and cornerstone to support delivering health and nutrition services to learners.
  2. Assess learning levels and implement remedial programmes - Basic reading and math skills are the foundation for all learning but even before the pandemic, many 10-year-olds could not read or understand a simple story. As schools reopen, it is essential to assess students’ learning levels to determine our next steps to support their learning recovery and progress towards learning goals. An emergency learning recovery plan is useful in adjusting instruction and directing resources accordingly to curb learning losses brought by school closures due to the pandemic.
  3. Elevate the teaching profession - It is high time that we advance excellence in teaching and school leadership through high-quality, job-embedded professional development for teachers and administrators, shaped by and responsive to the actual needs of students and schools. Corresponding investments to teachers resulting in increased compensation, benefits, and protection will drive motivation, recognition of teaching personal and attractiveness of the profession. 
  4. School closures due to the pandemic exacerbated the gap in digital learning. Children and young people are ready for a digital learning program. Learners need meaningful access to digital technologies to improve learning outcomes while at the same time protecting children’s safety, well-being, security, and privacy. Learners in last-mile schools and rural areas should be among the first to gain access to devices with relevant content and learning applications that will aid in achieving their learning goals.
  5. Increase investment in education - With these opportunities ahead of us, the implementation of the Basic Education Development Plan 2030—the first long-term plan of DepEd for basic education—and commitments to the Transforming Education Summit will be instrumental in assuring financial commitments to reach ambitious goals. Specifically, the allocated budget must:

    i. reach 6% of GDP by 2030 (with yearly increases of 0.5 percentage points) and cover at least 20% of the national budget; 

    ii. allocate 10% of education to budget to early childhood education; and

    iii. increase special education funds share from 1% to at least 2% at municipal level


As we move forward, let us reconfirm our commitment to reach the most excluded, the most vulnerable, the most disadvantaged first. Let's ensure that children that have dropped out, children with disabilities, indigenous children, pregnant teenagers, rural students, and young learners in child development centers will be among the first to benefit from the programs and services aimed at improving the current education system.

The series of national and grassroots consultations and this Convergence event are true benchmarks in a global pursuit to better education. They are just the beginning of an exciting process. There is work to be done but we know that our children, educators, decision-makers, and parents are ready to act  — to regain learning, and build on the long and deep-rooted tradition of education in the Philippines for future knowledge and skills that are needed for the nation to thrive. 

It is not just a commitment; it is a common purpose: quality education for every child in the Philippines.

Maraming salamat po. Thank you very much.

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UNICEF Philippines
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