Gatchalian says home-based learning may be ‘new normal’ in upcoming school year

Robie de Guzman   •   May 6, 2020   •   602

MANILA, Philippines — Learning from home may become the “new normal” for millions of students when school year 2020-2021 opens in August, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said on Wednesday.

In a statement, Gatchalian, who chairs the Senate committee on basic education, arts and culture, said that the Department of Education (DepEd) should use every platform to ensure the continued education and safety of more than 27 million learners amid the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis.

He said the mix of digital, low-tech, and no-tech methods will help DepEd reach all learners, especially those in the far-flung areas without access to the internet.

Since not all learners have connectivity and available gadgets for online-based learning, the senator said that television and radio will be key to reaching more learners nationwide.

“Marami pa rin sa ating mga mag-aaral sa buong bansa ang hindi nakakagamit ng internet, kaya malaki ang potensyal ng radyo at telebisyon upang maipagtuloy natin ang edukasyon sa loob ng ating mga tahanan,” Gatchalian said.

“Sa pagpasok ng SY 2020-2021, mahalagang magamit natin lahat ng paraaan upang maipagpatuloy ang edukasyon ng ating mga kabataan at mapanatili ang kanilang kaligtasan,” he added.

The lawmaker also proposed that the number of subjects under DepEd’s Learning Continuity Plan be reduced only to core subjects amid the health crisis situation.

He also suggested that the time leading to the opening of classes on August 24 should be spent on preparing teachers, parents and learners on using different tools for home-based learning.

The DepEd earlier said it is studying various modes of learning for students depending on the situation in their areas. Its guidelines will be released when finalized.

DepEd distances from VP Leni’s community learning hub project

Robie de Guzman   •   November 24, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Education (DepEd) on Tuesday distanced itself from the community learning hub project led by the Office of the Vice President (OVP), stressing that the government’s no face-to-face classes policy remains amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Education Secretary Leonor Briones made the statement amid the operation of community learning hubs in various localities in the country.

These hubs are places that provide support for students who may not have access to computers, stable internet connection and other equipment required for online learning and modular distance learning amid the pandemic.

“Ang polisiya namin, dahil sinusunod namin ang utos ng Presidente, hindi natin yan ina-allow,” Briones said.

“Wala naman sa authority ng DepEd na mag-anunsyo ng ganung klase na i-reverse natin ang sinasabi ng Presidente,” she added.

In October, Vice President Leni Robredo led the launching of a community learning hub in Pasig City. The facility only allows entry to a total of 10 persons, including six students, at a time.

Persons entering the hub are required to strictly observe health and safety protocols to prevent the possible transmission of COVID-19.

According to Briones, a request for the establishment of these hubs was sent by the OVP, but stressed that the DepEd is not involved in such a move.

“Last August, nag-request ang office ng Vice President na nagsasabi na sina-suggest nila ang project na yan. Tapos, sinagot namin. Humingi kami ng details. Tapos, on record yan lahat at saka binigyan namin ng kopya ang President at saka ang Executive Secretary ng aming mga sagot. So, on record yan lahat,” the DepEd chief said.

Briones said that since DepEd does not allow face-to-face classes, the OVP directly coordinated with the local government units (LGU).

“So ang sitwasyon ngayon, halimbawa sa Pasig, nag-coordinate sila sa LGU ng Pasig dahil hindi naman in-approve ng Division superintendent ‘yun,” she said.

The DepEd chief said the OVP also planned to open a similar hub in Caloocan City but it was not approved by the LGU.

It also coordinated with the Taytay LGU in Rizal but Briones said the DepEd is not involved in the initiative. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Asher Cadapan Jr.)

Oxford COVID-19 vaccine ‘highly effective’ based on trial

Aileen Cerrudo   •   November 24, 2020

The COVID-19 vaccine, developed by Oxford University and manufactured by pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, is reported to be highly effective based on the late-stage trials.

Over 20,000 volunteers participated in the trials in Brazil and the United Kingdom (UK).

Based on the trial, the vaccine can provide an average efficacy of 70% protection against the virus.

Researchers also said its protection rate can scale up to 90% efficacy rate when given as a half dose, followed by a full dose at least one month apart.

They also considered the results a success, even though the vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna are reported to be 95 per cent and 94.5 percent effective respectively.

However, researchers said the vaccine developed by Oxford is more affordable and easier to ship across countries.

The UK government already pre-ordered 100 million doses of the Oxford vaccine. AstraZeneca said they will manufacture three billion doses by next year. AAC (with reports from Jovic Bermas)

107-year-old College of Holy Spirit Manila to cease ops in 2022

Aileen Cerrudo   •   November 23, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — After facing the challenges brought by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, the 107-year-old College of the Holy Spirit Manila (CHSM) announced that it will cease its operations in 2022.

In a letter, Sr. Carmelita Victoria of the Mission Congregation of the Servants of the Holy Spirit said the school has faced challenges in increasing the number of enrollees in the past 10 years.

“We are now even more convinced that the Holy Spirit is speaking clearly to us through the signs of the times, compelling us to make this extremely difficult decision: to close CHSM at the end of academic year (AY) 2021-2022,” the letter reads.

Victoria said the significant increase in public school teachers’ salaries compared to their private school counterparts has also made it difficult for the school to cope.

“Private education has faced an increasingly challenging environment resulting from government policies on K-12; free tuition in state colleges and universities, local universities and college, and state-run technical and vocational institutions,” according to the letter.

She also said that the COVID-19 pandemic worsened the situation for the school.

“The reduction or loss in family income, mobility restrictions and social distancing requirements, and the new demands of distance learning have adversely affected enrollment, not only in CHSM, but in most private schools,” she added.

CSHM assured there will be a proper transition for the students currently enrolled. AAC

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