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CHED Adopts Flexible Learning for Good, Youth Groups React

Philippine universities and colleges will no longer return to traditional face-to-face classes, the Commission on Higher Education said.

The old paradigm of face-to-face versus online learning will now disappear, Commission on Higher Education (CHED) chairman Prospero de Vera said.

This means that Philippine universities and colleges will no longer return to traditional face-to-face classes and will adopt a policy to continue flexible learning in the years to come. (Read: Mcdonald’s Sets up ‘McClassrooms’ for Online Teachers)

“From now on, flexible learning will be the norm. There is no going back to the traditional, full-packed face-to-face classrooms. The commission has adopted a policy that flexible learning will continue in School Year 2021 and thereafter,” de Vera said in a webinar. 

Waste of Resources

A teacher holds a ‘dry run’ for her ’online special education class’ in a school in the northern Philippine city of Dagupan. (Photo from Jojo Riñoza/LiCAS News Philippines)

According to the CHED chairman, bringing back face-to-face classes will only expose educational stakeholders to the “same risks if another pandemic comes in.”

It also “would have wasted all the investments in technology, in teacher training, in the retrofitting of our facilities,” he said. (Read: Makati City Gives Out Flash Drives With Blended Learning Materials)

As such, de Vera said that universities will continue to invest and move ahead using online platforms, while others will allow some of their students to come back at specific periods and do more synchronous learning.

Students, Teachers React

Public school students at Brgy Poblacion, Mandaluyong City, struggle on their first day of distance learning due to poor internet connection and use of gadgets. (Photos by Angie de Silva/Rappler Facebook)

Meanwhile, youth groups slammed the CHED chairman for his statement. Jandeil Roperos of the National Union of Students of the Philippines said the new policy would worsen the financial, mental, and emotional hardships that confront students with flexible learning.

It would also “jeopardize the quality education that is their right,” Roperos said. (Read: Duterte Signs New Law Allowing Him to Adjust Reopening of Schools)

“Face-to-face classes remain to be the most inclusive and accessible option for education. If CHED wishes to pursue prolonged flexible learning, do they at least give gadget and connection assistance to those in need?” Roperos said in a statement. 

“It has been a month since lockdown, and frankly, the bursts of calls for academic breaks and academic ease are taking place as a reflection of how exhausting and unsustainable the current set-up in learning is,” she added.

An incoming Grade 12 student shows how she will attend online classes from her home in Antipolo City, July 1, 2020. (Photo from Jonathan Cellona / ABS-CBN News)

The Kabataan Partylist likewise is against the directive and said that such policy is a “gross negligence of duty to the education sector.” (Read: Pasig City Raises P1.2 Billion to Buy Gadgets for Online Classes)

According to Kabataan Representative Sarah Elago, said not all students and teachers who have complied with flexible learning “have adjusted to the current learning set-up which is still far from flexible.”

“It has taken a toll on students and teachers’ health and well-being as they struggle with online classes, experiencing stress and anxiety amid the health and economic crises,” Elago said in a Twitter post.

The CHED has implemented flexible learning in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, months after the implementation, students and teachers began calling for an academic break because of unreliable internet connectivity and excessive workload due to the new mode of instruction.

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