No face-to-face classes deny students’ access to quality education? Wrong! – CHED

Published May 26, 2021, 3:39 PM

by Merlina Hernando-Malipot

The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) defended its flexible learning policy for tertiary level saying this is a “better way to go” to ensure that Filipino students will continue their education even amid the pandemic.

Photo shows college students before Philippine schools were closed due to COVID-19 pandemic. (ALI VICOY / MANILA BULLETIN)

CHED Chairman Popoy De Vera, in a Facebook post on May 25, maintained that flexible learning enabled students in higher education institutions (HEIs) to continue their education despite the ongoing public health situation.

He said that Under Republic Act 10931 or the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education law, “more than two million students are being assisted by government through education subsidies” and they “get education through flexible learning.”

De Vera issued this statement as a response to the allegations of Assistant Minority Leader and ACT Teachers Representative France Castro.

In a statement issued May 24, she said that “face-to-face classes still provide better quality education for our students” and unless the CHED and the Duterte government “follow recommendations for safe and effective back-to-school, our youth will continue to be denied their right to quality and accessible education.”

However, De Vera firmly opposed this saying that there are 1.6 million students who are not paying tuition and miscellaneous fees while 500,000 get Tertiary Education Subsidy (TES) for their other needs. Moreover, he noted that over 300,000 students also get “Tulong Dunong” assistance from the government.

“Allowing access to Quality Education through Flexible Learning is the better way to go!” De Vera stressed.

De Vera also defended the government on the accusation of a House Member that the current administration is “negligent.”

Last week, Kabataan Partylist claimed that CHED was “grossly negligent” in the flexible learning of students during the pandemic.

Rep. Sarah Elago also posted on Twitter on May 23 that flexible learning “has taken a toll on students and teachers’ health and well-being as they struggle with online classes, experiencing stress and anxiety amid the health and economic crises.”

However, in a virtual press conference on May 24, De Vera challenged the critics to see for themselves whether or not the government is being “negligent.”

To prove his point, De Vera shared the story of a student name “Renamie” who is benefiting from TES for two years.

“Renamie,” De Vera said, used her first semester TES to “install electricity in their house for the first time” because she pitied her her siblings who were studying in the dark.

Her second TES, he added, was used to buy “her first cell phone” while her third was used to “buy a second-hand laptop for herself and her brother.” De Vera said that “Renamie” continues to study “to better herself.”

Instead of accusing CHED of being negligent, De Vera, in a separate post, said that Elago should accuse the Congress of negligence instead.

The Congress, he added, allocates the funds for programs and other projects of agencies. “Why didn’t she convince her colleagues in Congress about it? Shouldn’t she be accusing Congress of negligence? Fund CHED and we will do it,” De Vera said in Filipino.