Villanueva calls for end of semester by April 30, students to be given ‘pass or drop’ grades

Published April 29, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Vanne Elaine Terrazola 

Senator Joel Villanueva is urging the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) to authorize and encourage all universities and colleges to terminate the current semester by April 30 and to give their students a “pass” or “drop” grades.

Senator Joel Villanueva (Senator Joel Villanueva Official Facebook Page / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)
Senator Joel Villanueva (Senator Joel Villanueva Official Facebook Page / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

The chair of the Senate Committee on Higher, Technical, and Vocational Education on Monday filed proposed Resolution No. 375 as he pointed out the “extraordinary situation” that the country is in due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

He cited calls for the early termination of the semester as well as for the mass promotion of students, since classes were cut short by the quarantine and social distancing measures were imposed to contain the disease.

While some universities have adopted measures to cope with the pandemic such as online classes, Villanueva said: “Hindi po kasi lahat ng mag-aaral ay may kakayahan makisabay sa mga online classes na ipinatutupad ngayon (Not all students can keep up with the online classes being implemented right now).”

Aside from students, he said faculty members have also been affected by the public health crisis.

“Experts even fear that aside from COVID-19, another health concern confounding the healthcare system right now is the mental health of the people affected by the pandemic,” Villanueva said.

In the resolution, the lawmaker said it is “imperative” for the CHED to step in and issue an advisory “on the most expeditious way” on the immediate termination of the current semester, or any equivalent academic period of academic year 2019-2020.

CHED, he added, should allow students to complete their respective course requirements within one year and for graduating students to graduate this year.

Instead of a failing grade, students who are not able to meet the course requirements within such period should be given a “Drop” mark, Villanueva said.

The CHED earlier said it will still be giving universities and colleges the “academic freedom” on whether or not to implement a mass promotion policy for tertiary students amid the national health emergency.

CHED Chairman Prospero de Vera was quoted by CNN Philippines as saying that he does not agree with issuing a “universal decision” on the matter.

Some universities have opposed giving their students passing marks for fear of compromising the quality and content of their programs.

Others, however, have implemented policies to cope with the current situation.

The University of the Philippines, for instance, decided to shorten the second semester of the academic year 2019-2020 from May 13 to April 30, and to give its students until May, 2021 to complete the requirements of their enrolled courses.

The Ateneo de Manila University has decided to end the semester on May 8 and to give all its students passing marks.

The De La Salle University said it will not give their students failing grades this semester, and that students who cannot participate in online learning will have a period of one year to complete their requirements.

Villanueva said that as of August, 2019, there are over 3.2 million students and 136,186 faculty members in 1,963 higher education institutions in the country.