July 25, 2022 (5:07 PM)

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SOYA. A safe way to return to campus was the main topic discussed in the State of the Youth Address (SOYA) with the theme “Not All Too Well: The Youth Struggle for the Safe Resumption of Classes” which happened last July 23, 2022. Photo credits to Jericko Espina

Presenting the issues of the youth sector, especially on the safe return to schools, various organizations took part in this year’s State of the Youth Address (SOYA) with the theme “Not All Too Well: The Youth Struggle for the Safe Resumption of Classes.”

According to Rise for Education Davao Convenor Vingeelou Omar Aton, SOYA’s purpose is to present the situation of the youth, discuss issues, and advocate for action. 

“The State of the Youth Address [SOYA] has been going on for many years, even before the pre-pandemic. This year the theme of SOYA revolved around the urge for a safe re-opening of face-to-face classes,” Aton told Atenews.

During the SOYA, the discussion grounded on the situation of the youth, especially regarding education. This activity also included the presentation of proposed ordinances that will be passed to local government units (LGUs) to pursue a safer return to schools.

“The new administration must ensure that the youth has access to the right to education and the safe return of students to school. Because if we continue to remain in a remote setup of classes, this hampers the competence of students and affects those youth who are still unable to adapt to the remote setup because of the great digital divide we have in the country,” Aton added.

Vice President and Department of Education (DepEd) Secretary Sara Duterte has recently allowed full face-to-face classes for the basic education sector beginning November 2022 and given mandates on rendering school uniforms optional.

However, Aton thinks that the government’s actions regarding the return of campus students are insufficient.

“We see little to no response to the growing educational crisis in the Philippines. It is not even in the discussion of the current administration. We still see no plans laid out to address the educational crisis but have been talking about the revival of ROTC and the removal of class uniforms,” he said.

Aton looks forward to the safe return of students to schools, citing different ways that people can lobby for it, including the Kabataan Partylist’s legislative bill initiative entitled “Safe School Reopening Bill.”

“In our locality, we also have organizing groups like Rise for Education, opting to localize the mentioned bill and petition it to our LGU to make it an ordinance. Respective student councils can also lobby and pass a proposal to their respective administration to ensure their school is ready for face-to-face,” Aton said.

The SOYA was conducted last July 23 in Brokenshire Bahay Alumni Madapo Hills Davao City, attended by different youth organizations and publications.



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