No coming back, remote higher education is the new norm in the Philippines

Coming back to face-to-face classes would be exposing the education system to the risks of another pandemic, and wasting the technological investment made.

The Philippines Commission on Higher Education has adopted a policy in which remote learning is the new normal policy for the students this year and thereafter. The chair of CHED, Prospero De Vera III, announced on May 21, 2021 that the policy would continue in “school year 2021 and thereafter”. Last year, the academic year, which usually starts in June in the Philippines, was postponed to October because of logistical limitations due to the Covid-19 that forced to move to remote learning.

From now on, flexible learning will be the norm. There’s no going back to the traditional full-packed face-to-face classrooms.”, explained the chair of the commission during a Center for Strategy, Enterprise, and Intelligence webinar on “Educating our Children in the New Normal“.

The reason is to avoid the educational system to be exposed to the same risks in case of another pandemic.

University of the Philippines Diliman
The University of the Philippines Diliman, the largest of the country, may adapt the cursus it provides to students with more flexible learning

Face-to-face classes would be a waste of the money invested in remote learning

Moreover, coming back to a pre-pandemic situation would be a waste of “investments in technology, teachers’ training, and retrofitting of our facilities“. The commission chair added however that the colleges and universities would have some room to “mix and match flexible learning methods appropriate to their situation“.

Several student groups, such as the National Union of Students of the Philippines Cebu, rejected the policy, asking for a gradual return to physical classes. Remote learning comes with various headwinds, from equal access to lessons depending on digital access to mental health issues with social exclusion.

De Vera said in an interview that critics of the new norm actually confuse digital learning with flexible learning, in which work that doesn’t require an online connection could be done other than during face-to-face classes.

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