CHED Breaks Their Silence: What to Expect for SY 2021 and Beyond
May 28, 2021
By : Tatiana Carrido
Last May 23, news outlets kickstarted our last week of May with reports on the adopted policy for the continuation of flexible learning in the school years to follow. This means that online classes and modules are here to stay. As if Mondays aren’t bad enough.
Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Chairman J. Prospero de Vera III explains the risks of bringing back face-to-face classes in a virtual forum last May 21: “If we go back to the traditional face-to-face classroom… we run the risk of exposing our educational stakeholders to the same risks if another pandemic comes in.” De Vera highlights that the “old paradigm of face-to-face versus online will now disappear.” He encourages teachers and institutions to be more willing to adjust and explore creative methods of teaching.
The system will allow universities and colleges to adjust according to their respective situations. They may continue to conduct classes through online classes, as done by the Ateneo de Manila University. The previous school year, the university adopted a quarterly mode of course organization, allowing both students and teachers to manage three to four courses at a time. After continuous consultation with its students and faculty, the University has deemed itself ready to return to a semestral mode of course organization, with specific measures in place as they adjust to their former academic terms. You can read their complete memo on Organizing the Courses for Teaching in SY 2021-2022 here.
While online learning is an obvious choice for some universities and colleges, we must never forget that not all students can actually adapt to it. The flexible learning system does little to address students facing difficulties accessing tools for online learning, funding their education, or those contemplating the shift from education to employment. Although resources are available online, there still remains a number of pre-pandemic hindrances that have yet to be tackled by both government and educational institutions alike.
For the flexible learning system to work, it must be curated based on both the needs of the student community and the ability of the school to address the digital divide that hinders the community from moving forward. Surveys, FGDs, and forums are vital avenues for students and faculty to communicate their needs. Through this, the administration can better understand the complexities that surround each student, and ensure that the system is adapting to its users rather than the reverse.
Meanwhile, CHED is also weighing the prospects of requesting another batch of students for limited face-to-face classes. The first batch were medical students, approved earlier this year under the provision that medical schools followed strict protocols and coordinated with LGUs. However, additional data is being requested to confirm that the limited face-to-face classes are safe from infection and transmission before an official request is made to President Duterte.
The second batch is targeted towards hands-on heavy degrees such as engineering, information technology, industrial technology, and maritime programs. This is in hopes to help students with skills that are not easy to instruct online. We can’t have our future doctors and nurses practicing on teddy bears forever.
While the flexible learning system seems like a bandaid slapped on a fracture at this point, we know that this isn’t our first rodeo. Equipped with our Google Extensions and study playlists, we take comfort in the familiarity of the setup rather than its novelty. There are some things we miss though: daily commutes, and our school’s catering service among other things. Until then, we’ll just have to make do with the current setup to advance our education.
Kicks-and-giggles aside, we know that even with a flexible learning system in place, it’s still another year tucked away at home. Away from our dearly missed campuses, after-school hangout spots, and the company of our friends that no Discord or Telegram can ever replace. Mental health remains to be a pressing issue for students, teachers, and parents alike as we continue to navigate through our education during a global pandemic.
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