Groups fear learning to worsen if flexible learning pushed as new norm
This undated file photo shows a student attending online classes. Schooling in the Philippines amid the pandemic has been carried out remotely, which often came with difficulties.
The STAR/Edd Gumban, file

Groups fear learning to worsen if flexible learning pushed as new norm

Christian Deiparine (Philstar.com) - May 23, 2021 - 11:11am

MANILA, Philippines — Youth groups have hit a new policy by the Commission on Higher Education that puts flexible learning as the "new norm" beyond the pandemic, saying it could only heighten difficulties under the setup. 

The remarks came after CHED Chairperson Prospero de Vera III said last week that there would no longer be a return to the traditional in-person classes, and schools can continue the use of its online platforms.

"We maintain that this is nothing but CHED explicitly ignoring the demand of students, teachers and parents for a safe return to face-to-face classes," said the Kabataan Party-list in a statement on Saturday. "This is gross negligence of duty to the education sector."

Classes in the Philippines both the in K-12 and tertiary level have been carried out remotely since the COVID-19 hit in 2020.

That had meant economic and social difficulties for students and faculty, especially amid the pandemic. Several surveys sought to shed light, at least to an extent, on the impact of the present setup on education stakeholders. 

"Not all who are compliant have adjusted to the current learning setup which is still far from flexible," Rep. Sarah Elago (Kabataan Party-list) wrote on Twitter. "CHED must support calls for education relief measures such as internet and communication subsidies."

The lawmaker sought for clear guidance from CHED on the safe reopening of schools. So far, the commission has cleared some 60 universities for limited physical classes in medical and health allied programs. 

Last week, De Vera also bared that additional programs could soon be allowed per CHED's proposal to President Rodrigo Duterte. 

Elago said she will deliver a privilege speech in the House on Monday on CHED's newly adopted policy, as well as to push for additional education subsidies in her proposed Student Aid Bill.

Another youth group pressed CHED for more financial aid to students economically struggling, and those without the means for gadgets and access to internet. 

Jandeil Ropero of the National Union of Students of the Philippines said repeated calls for academic breaks mirror "how exhausting and unsustainable the current setup in learning is."

"Relatively, face-to-face classes remain to be the most inclusive and accessible option for education," he said. "We need CHED to listen to students and other sectors in education and take action from our calls."

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