CHED Chair finds opposition to flexible learning ‘alarming’, says policy is misunderstood

Published May 24, 2021, 2:08 PM

by Merlina Hernando-Malipot

Commission on Higher Education Chairman Popoy De Vera on Monday, May 24, expressed alarm on why flexible learning continues to face stiff opposition among education stakeholders when it is “very simple” to understand.

CHED Chairman Popoy De Vera (Photo from CHED)

“What is difficult for me to understand or what is alarming is that we have been doing flexible learning for one year now and it seems that many still don’t understand the definition,” De Vera said in an online press conference.

“Or worse, some refuse to understand it because they have a political agenda to push for – that is what is alarming,” he added.

De Vera, during a webinar on May 21 entitled “Educating our Children in the New Normal” said that CHED has adopted flexible learning as a “norm” at the tertiary level this school year and the years “thereafter” as a response to the changes brought by the global pandemic.

However, De Vera continues to draw flak from education stakeholders as netizens continue to criticize CHED for “normalizing” the implementation of flexible learning .

De Vera explained that flexible learning is “very simple” – noting that it is a policy where universities and colleges are given the authority to determine the correct mix of delivery systems appropriate to them.

In flexible learning , De Vera said that learning institutions must be able to deliver education based on the condition on the ground – particularly the health situation; the condition of the students, faculty members, and employees; and the condition of connectivity and gadgets. “We let them mix-and-match the various options,” he added.

Contrary to the perception of critics, De Vera stressed that “flexible learning is not equal to distance or online education.”

Online learning, De Vera explained, is not equivalent to flexible learning as it is only one type and there are many others. “You can combine online and offline, synchronous and asynchronous, you can do it offline by giving modules to students to do at home and submit it in areas where there is absolutely no connectivity,” he said.

For medical and allied health programs that need skills-based laboratory, De Vera said that limited face-to-face classes have also been allowed. “We have authorized more than 60 schools to have face-to-face for laboratory classes because you cannot teach that virtually,” he said.

In flexible learning , De Vera maintained that the correct mix of delivery systems will be decided by the schools in consultation with students, parents, and local governments. “I don’t know what is so difficult to understand on that definition,” he ended.