Manila Bulletin

Flexible Learning is the future of PH higher education – CHED


Since last year, the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) said that the country’s education system has been trying to adjust to the realities of the coronaviru­s disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

In higher education, one of the responses of CHED to the challenges brought by COVID-19 is adopting a Flexible Learning policy.

“I have said that in the next school year and after that, Flexible Learning is here to stay as far as higher education is concerned,” CHED Chairman Popoy De Vera said in a public forum on the Congressio­nal Commission on Education (EDCOM) of 1991 organized by the Department of Education (DepEd) on Aug. 13.

De Vera noted that the COVID-19 pandemic is currently the biggest challenge in Philippine higher education.

However, he also noted that while COVID-19 is a challenge to many universiti­es, it can also be an opportunit­y to others.

The future of higher education

Due to the pandemic, De Vera said that the entire system was forced to adapt to various challenges.

Higher Education Institutio­ns (HEIs), in particular, have been preparing their campuses and faculty to ensure their operations even amid the ongoing pandemic.

“We will see a system where universiti­es will have to determine the proper mix and match of learning delivery systems appropriat­e to the health situation on the ground, the capability of their faculty and students, connectivi­ty, and their own capacity to do it,” De Vera said.

He explained that the universiti­es that have invested in technology and those that have trained their teachers for technology-mediated learning will have the “capacity to push ahead faster” compared to others.

“Other universiti­es who will do a catch-up system to be able to maximize the opportunit­ies of Flexible Learning,” he added.

Flexible Learning, De Vera explained, is a combinatio­n of all live and limited face-to-face as well as online and physical classes in HEIs.

Dealing with challenges

De Vera has been visiting various HEIs nationwide to “know what is happening” on the ground.

Based on his conversati­ons with affected schools and its administra­tors, local executives, and students, he noted that COVID-19 is the biggest challenge in higher education to date because it continues to affect the entire system.

“To me, that is the biggest challenge because it's not only improving connectivi­ty and technology, we will now have to adjust the curriculum, we have to review learning outcomes [and] we will have to create better systems of accreditat­ion,” De Vera explained.

Due to changes brought about by the pandemic, De Vera said that the country will also have to target government investment­s in public and private universiti­es “accurately to help those that are a little bit behind to move faster.” This, he added, will also get the universiti­es that are “doing very well” to help the others with lesser capacity.

To adapt to the changes in the future, De Vera said that CHED is currently harnessing experts and technical panels to develop Flexible Learning curriculum.

“We have been able to start limited face-to-face classes in medicine and allied health sciences and so far, it has worked,” De Vera said. “There is very minimal infection for the universiti­es that have been allowed for limited face-to-face,” he added.

While the necessary adjustment­s are being implemente­d, De Vera underscore­d the need for an overhaul in the country’s higher education system. “You've got to change the whole regime, the whole approach in higher education,” he said.

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