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CHED defends 'flexible learning' being the new norm, but some educators are cool to the idea

Published May 24, 2021 8:58 pm Updated May 24, 2021 9:47 pm

Commission on Higher Education (CHED) chair Prospero de Vera maintained today that “flexible learning” will be the new norm even after the pandemic, even as some educators are wary how it will work considering the challenges that schools are facing during the pandemic.

De Vera was initially quoted over the weekend in media reports as saying in a webinar that the “flexible learning” system will stay even after the pandemic.

As parents, children, and educators have all experienced and expressed difficulties going through the “distance learning” method during the pandemic, De Vera’s statement riled up a number of people on social media.

In an ANC interview today, De Vera said that critics are confusing “flexible learning” with “distance learning.”

"What I am concerned about with those criticizing the government is they are confusing the issue. They are saying that flexible learning equals online learning," De Vera said.

"When we say flexible learning, you mix and match the available options depending on the situation of students, teachers, connectivity, health situation on the ground. We do it because the situations on the ground are different, you can not have a one-size-fits-all policy this time," De Vera explained.

Among those who have criticized CHED following De Vera's statement include Kabataan partylist Rep. Sarah Elago.

In a tweet, Elago said that the current learning set-up, "which is still far from flexible... 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."

The Teachers' Dignity Coalition, which has member educators in the basic and higher levels of education, said that they are also apprehensive about adopting "flexible learning" as a norm.

"Yung applicability ng flexible learning is mahirap talaga, mapa-basic education or higher," Benjo Basas, TDC chair, told PhilSTAR L!fe.

Though Basas said he is aware of how De Vera defined the term, he said he is still wary that traditional face-to-face classroom instruction would be diminished.

"Ang issue kasi diyan is parang gini-give up na yung traditional schooling, eh napakahirap niyan," Basas said. "Yung competency ng students, naapektuhan kasi mahirap talaga, kulang din sa materials and preparation ang system."

The University of the Philippines Los Banos chapter of the UP Academic Employees Union also said “flexible learning” is not ideal.

“Hindi naman dapat maliitin ang flexible learning bilang lehitimo at recognized naman na mode ito ng learning. Gayunpaman, hindi ito ang epektibong moda ng pagkatuto para sa mga mag-aaral na Filipino given ang sitwasyon ng educational system sa bansa. Isang taon makalipas ang full-blown remote learning, hindi pa rin naman lubos na napaunlad ang ating infrastructure," the organization said.

"Sa madaling salita, hindi handa ang Pilipinas para sa ganitong sistema." (Bim Santos with a report from Romina Faylon)