Youth group fears schools far from ready to open

Published July 14, 2020, 1:08 PM

by Alexandria Dennise San Juan

A youth group has contradicted the claim made by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) last week that it is ready to open classes under the “new normal” next month.

(Photo courtesy of DepEd / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Samahan ng Progresibong Kabataan (SPARK) spokesperson John Lazaro said this is “farthest from the truth” as many higher education institutions are still “far from ready” to implement the flexible mode of learning.

“The conditions on the ground as reported by the actual students and even faculty members are indicating the opposite of the declaration of the CHED. We have been receiving multiple reports as far as the state and local colleges from Ilocos down to Zamboanga,” Lazaro said in a statement.

Lazaro added that many students have disclosed in social media the current status of their schools such as the lack of enrollment guidelines, as well as the absence of explanation regarding tuition fees.

In a virtual press briefing last week, CHED Chairman J. Prospero De Vera III said they are ready to open classes in August as the Commission partnered with top universities to train for free faculty members from other schools on flexible learning.

“We are ready because our top universities have been doing flexible learning even before COVID-19. The other universities have shifted to flexible learning during the quarantine and are moving ahead for the opening of classes,” De Vera said.

Through the CHED HiEd Bayanihan initiative, six universities are offering free online training for faculty members from other schools on flexible learning to help in preparing them for the “new normal.”

Among the universities collaborating with the Commission and will offer the free training are the Central Luzon State University, De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde, Far Eastern University, Manuel S. Enverga University Foundation, Philippine Normal University, and Tarlac Agricultural University.

Aside from the continuation of online classes, Lazaro said that another common complaint against several universities has been the continued charging of tuition and other fees even without school facilities being used.

“We continue to call for an academic freeze as the most humane path forward to allow students to look after their families and themselves in a time of crisis,” Lazaro said.

“Additionally, we also call on school administrators to continue to pay their workers’ wages, as well as to extend financial and medical aid to those who contract the virus in their academic communities,” he added.