MANILA — As the world celebrates the International Day of Education, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) calls for more stringent measures to ensure that children are protected from all forms of abuse, as part of the obligation of the state.
“A holistic approach in ensuring the protection of children from all forms of abuse also includes ensuring that they are well-informed of their rights and that they receive proper psychosocial support from their teachers and parents,” CHR spokesperson Jacqueline Ann de Guia says in a statement.
But “as the pandemic worsens with the detection of new strains, forcing the continued delay of the resumption of physical classes, social, economic, and digital inequalities continue to endanger this generation of students the opportunity of education which we know to be crucial for social mobilization and cohesion,” De Guia adds.
International Day of Education
Learners without access to education
She cites an unprecedented number of individuals who are without access to education because of a widespread interruption of literacy and learning programs that affected the lives of 1.6 billion students all over the world. Among them are over 28 million Filipino learners across academic levels who have to stay home and comply with quarantine measures.
De Guia cites reports from the Department of Justice (DOJ) showing a spike of 260 percent on the online exploitation of children during imposed lockdowns because of the pandemic. With this trend, she adds that the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) findings of the doubling rates of suspicious transactions involving child pornography were confirmed.
From PhP65.8 million reported in 2019, transactions went up to PhP113.1 million in the first half of 2020.
“Even more concerning are the alleged reports of a ‘Christmas sale’ of sensual photos and videos sold by students on social media sites for as little as PhP150 to help raise funds for distance learning-related expenses,” de Guia said.
A call to boost efforts against child abuse
In light of the global event, the CHR calls on the Department of Education (DepEd) and schools to continue to ramp up the efforts of child protection committees (CPCs) tasked to identify cases of child abuse.
De Guia says, “the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) should equally remain vigilant in ensuring that internet service providers (ISPs) block access to all websites carrying child pornography materials. Failure of ISPs or reluctance to comply with measures that combat online sexual exploitation of children must be sanctioned.”
Further, De Guia states that the government support for teachers must be prompt. As teaching is heavily shifted online, their full communication spend should be covered wholly. At any rate, the safety and efficient delivery of modules to learners who have no access to the internet must also be assured and guaranteed.
Dep-Ed initiatives, SB 735 appreciated
The CHR recognizes Dep-Ed’s psychosocial support and training program for parents, teachers, school heads, which aims to teach parents, teachers, and non-teaching personnel in protecting the health, safety, and well-being of their children.
“The filing of Senate Bill 735 or the Human Trafficking Preventive Education Program Act by Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, which aims to orient Filipino children on their rights and vital protection measures against online sexual exploitation of children, is a welcome move towards this endeavor,” says De Guia.
The Commission on Human Rights joined the international community in commemoration of the third International Day of Education today, 24 January 2021, which came in the wake of a pandemic. (BG/Headline PH)