MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte has appealed to schools to offer staggered or installment payment options for students, recognizing how their parents are “hard-pressed” in finances due to the community quarantine brought about by the coronavirus disease (Covid-19).
“Iyong tuition ho sana (As for tuition) — I hope that you’d allow a staggered payment or installments lang po sa mga eskwelahan (in schools),” he said in a televised meeting with Cabinet officials late Thursday night.
He also ordered the state-run Land Bank of the Philippines (Land Bank) to provide loans to students, especially those who could not afford to pay their tuition at all.
“For those who have really nothing to come up to sa bayaran (in paying tuition), we have the Land Bank and kindly listen to rules kasi itong Land Bank bubuksan namin (because we will open Land Bank) and you can borrow money to finance the education of your children,” he said.
Duterte assured parents who may have lost their jobs due to the pandemic that their children would still be able to pay their tuition with loans offered by the Land Bank.
“We are hard-pressed in our finances but we have to place the premium of education. So that this would be another round of expenses but Land Bank is there to help you,” he said.
To ensure that the Land Bank would comply with his order, he asked the state-owned bank to prepare a daily report on the loans released to beneficiaries.
“I want the development of this endeavor of the Land Bank to help. Gusto kong malaman na matutupad talaga (I want to find out if it will really be fulfilled). So maybe I will require a report every day on how it goes, how it would present itself to the public once it is available,” he said.
Earlier, the Land Bank announced that it has launched ACADEME or Access to Academic Development to Empower the Masses towards Endless Opportunities lending program to extend credit to private high schools, private technical-vocational education training institutions, colleges and universities in a “study now, pay later” scheme.
“Given the financial constraints brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, Land Bank is financing interventions to ensure that students will be able to enroll in school when classes finally resume. The Landbank Academe Lending Program supports the education sector in providing students greater access to quality education amid the health crisis we are all facing,” Land Bank president and CEO Cecilia Borromeo said in a statement.
The loans carry an interest rate of 3 percent per annum and are payable “based on the maturity of the sub-promissory notes but not to exceed three years.”
Land Bank set aside a total of PHP3-billion for the lending program for students amid the pandemic which will be available until June 30, 2021.
With the opening of classes all set for August 24, Duterte commended Education Secretary Leonor Briones for the plan to provide “blended and distance learning” modalities for students to comply with his desire not to allow face-to-face classes until a vaccine against Covid-19 is available.
“I’m impressed with the simplicity of the program, Ma’am. And I believe that all that you have said is really feasible. I believe we have a very workable program and I support you,” he said.
Briones, during the meeting, presented the plan of the Department of Education (DepEd) to adopt different learning approaches to ensure that education continues amid the pandemic.
Briones said the DepEd will have three approaches for students depending on whether they have ready access to computers or the internet.
The first approach, she said, would be printed material, which will be delivered to the homes of the students through the barangays or picked up by their parents at designated places within coordinated schedules.
In case there is no connectivity and printed materials may not be available immediately, Briones said the DepEd could tap radio or television-based learning by “working very closely” with barangays (villages) and local government.
Briones said that municipalities as well as the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO), IBC-13 have offered their resources to air lessons through radio and television.
Students with access to interactive facilities will utilize its online learning platform called DepEd Commons (commons.deped.gov.ph), she said.
Currently, the DepEd Commons has over seven million subscribers wherein lessons, homework, quizzes, tips to learners, and teachers are accessible, she added.
She said these alternative learning schemes are “already existing” and “done by many schools”, but noted that there is a greater emphasis now that face-to-face classes would have to be limited.
Duterte expressed support for the program and asked her to seek help from concerned agencies, particularly the Department of the Interior and Local Government, to assist them in implementing it.
He also vowed to provide funding for the DedEd program, saying that education cannot be compromised.
“If it’s a question of funding, I will — sought to speak, scrape the bottom — the bottom of the barrel…We will have to forgo many things along the way because of what happened. But education, I think, if it is compromised it should be negligible so that it should go on because the future of this country depends on the — how we educate our young people nowadays,” he said. (PNA)