U.P. mulls university-wide distance learning amid coronavirus crisis

Marje Pelayo
University of the Philippines

MANILA, Philippines – The spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has posed a major challenge among schools and universities in the country.

To address possible learning setbacks due to COVID-19, the University of the Philippines (UP) is considering the use of an online platform as an alternative to classroom school setting.

UP Executive Vice President Dr. Teodoro Herbosa said they might ask all 54,000 students in all eight UP campuses across the country to defer coming to school until the end of the term in May should COVID-19 further spread.

Herbosa said distance learning is what schools in other virus-stricken countries are doing at this time of coronavirus outbreak such as in the United States, Singapore and South Korea.

“All their classes are now online. May program tapos nakikita ng teacher ang mga estudyante. Nagdi-discuss sila, nakakagawa sila ng project. Nagsa-submit sila by email pero nasa bahay sila, (They have a program and the teacher sees the students [online]. They have discussions, they do their projects, they submit through email even if they are at home),” he said.

Herbosa said they are currently collaborating with their colleagues from the UP Open University who have been conducting distance learning to students in different places even to overseas Filipino workers (OFW).

The Commission of Higher Education (CHED), meanwhile, said they are leaving it to the administrators of State Colleges and Universities (SUCs) if they would prefer online classes.

CHED Chairperson Prospero de Vera noted, however, that not all SUCs are capable or have the facilities to conduct online classes.

“We leave that to the SUCs to decide. Not all SUCs have capability to do online learning. Some are already doing it even before the spread of the virus happened. Shifting from residential to online or mixed delivery system also requires a process from the academic council all the way to the board of regents,” De Vera said in a statement.

“CHED does not have the authority to mandate a shift in delivery of programs. SUCs do it through their Boards of Regents using CHED guidelines,” he concluded.

UP Open University has been offering online courses since 1995 and celebrated its 25 years of quality distance learning in February this year. – MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

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