Wed. Sep 29th, 2021

MANILA – Private higher education institutions (HEIs) using the old academic calendar have moved the opening of classes to August, Commission on Higher Education (CHED) chair J. Prospero de Vera III said on Monday.

“So, iyon ‘yong (that’s the) major change. And, we proposed a rolling opening so that those who can do flexible learning can open in August and those who have difficulty and will still use significant residential or face-to-face classes can open in September or later,” de Vera said in a virtual public briefing.

Since the academic calendar is approved by the board of regents (BORs) of the respective HEIs, de Vera said universities and colleges are proposing to their BORs a new date for the opening of classes.

Meanwhile, for state universities, the proposed opening of classes is either in August or the first week of September.

“We are giving them the months of May and June to come up with firm plan approved by their boards. And so, this will be known by the Commission because the chair of the boards of all state universities and colleges is the Chairman of CHED or the designated representative,” de Vera said.

In preparation for the opening of classes under a “new normal”, de Vera said he would be doing online a more intensive, region-based discussion with the universities and regional directors.

After the discussions, the CHED would be rolling out a massive training program for teachers as it discusses with the universities how to establish their learning management system — both proprietary and free software.

“I have issued the memorandum asking universities that can train teachers on flexible learning, to submit proposals already to the Commission for approval, so they could start training teachers starting late May or early June,” de Vera said.

De Vera said under a flexible learning system, higher education remain accessible to all and the learning outcomes by the end of the semester are the same.

“What you will change is how you produce these outcomes, both using offline method, online method; residential or non-residential,” he said.

He corrected the notion that flexible learning meant no classes in schools, which he said, is not the case especially in these times when the country is facing a pandemic.

“The intention of flexible learning is to decongest the classroom to reduce the number of students who go to the classroom at one time so that social distancing and the health of students can be protected. So some students, for example, those who have weaker connectivity can still attend classes. Those have strong connectivity can receive online education,” he said.

The commission is doing an assessment survey on the internet connectivity of more than 300 state universities and colleges.

The result of the survey would help CHED and the Department of Information and Communications Technology decide on “the most strategic assistance, connectivity-wise, for the different campuses”.

“And that same data on connectivity [survey results] will be used by the HEIs to design their flexible learning. So, in campuses where connectivity is weaker, then, they will do a combination of residential and non-residential systems including not necessarily online but more off-line options,” de Vera said. (ia/PNA)

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