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Flexible learning critics 'confusing the issue,' CHED chief says

Christian Deiparine - Philstar.com
Flexible learning critics 'confusing the issue,' CHED chief says
In this January 2020 photo, students are seen wearing protective face masks while having their temperatures taken in entering their college campus in Manila
AFP / Ted Aljibe

MANILA, Philippines — Commission on Higher Education Chairperson Prospero de Vera III responded to backlash on keeping flexible learning in college even after the pandemic, saying critics may be confusing the policy.

De Vera last week announced the move citing investments done by schools on technology to adapt to the health crisis. It did not sit well with students' groups, that said the economic and social impact from the current setup have taken a toll on their wellbeing.

Over ANC's "Headstart" on Monday, the CHED chairperson said the policy is a mix of the available options for learning that considers students and teachers' situation.

"What I am concerned about for many of those criticizing government is they are confusing the issue," he said. "They are saying flexible learning equals online learning."

De Vera further took a swipe in suggesting that groups seem to refuse to accept what flexible learning means, "because they want to criticize government." He added that with the condition of students across the country varying, CHED could not have a "one size fits all" policy.

Classes at the tertiary level remain mostly online. Some universities had been cleared for limited in-person learning for those in medical and health allied programs. 
 
The agency has said that more programs could soon be proposed for allowing to return on campus. 

Months into online classes, there had been various calls for academic breaks, particularly when three storms hit Luzon last year, and when Metro Manila and four nearby provinces were returned to hard lockdown amid a surge in COVID-19 cases. 

In the same interview, De Vera hit Rep. Sarah Elago (Kabataan Party-list) over her remarks against CHED's flexible learning as well as in calling for more financial aid to students. 

"I don't know what Sarah Elago is talking about when she talks about gross negligence," he said, adding that proposals for internet load and gadgets to students were heard in Congress. "She is a member of the House of Representatives. My question is: why wasn't she able to convince the rest of the members of the House and the Senate to do it?"

The CHED chief said too that under the Bayanihan to Recover As One Act or the Bayanihan 2, some P3 billion were allocated for putting up "smart" campuses and assistance to teachers whose salary was affected by COVID-19, as well as on students with debt on tuition and other fees.

Elago has urged CHED to hold a dialogue over its newly adopted policy. She also sought for a clear guidance on the safe reopening of schools. 

"I think this is a politically loaded statement that she is mentioning," De Vera added. "As far as the commission is concerned, everything is being done within the health [and] financial parameters of government."

COMMISSION ON HIGHER EDUCATION

DISTANCE LEARNING

KABATAAN PARTYLIST

PROSPERO DE VERA III

SARAH ELAGO

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