Colleges and universities don’t have to delay the opening of their academic school year, Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Chairman Prospero de Vera III said Saturday.
This was after the Department of Education (DepEd) announced that the opening of classes will be moved to Oct. 5, as President Rodrigo Duterte approved Education Secretary Leonor Briones’ recommendation in light of the coronavirus lockdowns.
(OJO: Insert links to related stories here)
In an interview with CNN Philippines, de Vera said that Republic Act No. 1148, which the deferment of the school opening falls under, only covers grades K-12 and DepEd regulated schools.
De Vera said higher education falls under the Republic Act No. 7722 or the CHED Law, which allows colleges and universities to exercise academic freedom, such as the opening of their classes.
"Universities open their school year, as approved by their board, depending on the way they structure their semester. Hindi po kasi pwede sabay-sabay ang pagbubukas ng mga pamantasan dahil iba-iba ang academic calendar," he said.
De Vera cited the trimestral academic calendars of De La Salle University, Philippine Women's University, and St. Scholastica's College, and the quarterly school year of Mapua University.
"So hindi pwedeng pagsabay-sabayin, it's impractical. It cannot be done," he said.
Meanwhile, a party-list legislator on Saturday thanked the DepEd for heeding calls to postpone the opening of classes to October 5.
Rep. Ronnie Ong of the Ang Probinsyano party-list said the delay would provide stakeholders enough time to prepare for the proposed transition from the conventional “face-to-face” mode of teaching to the so-called blended type of learning.
Ong was among the legislators who actively pushed for the postponement of classes. He said the DepEd made the right decision.
"I am happy that DepEd made this decision. Pushing for the opening of classes this month would seriously undermine the country’s educational system and unduly prejudice poor students especially the 'probinsyanos' who still have no access to gadgets and the internet," Ong said.
He stressed DepEd really has no reason to rush the opening of classes following the enactment of RA 11480 or the “Act to Lengthen the School Calendar from 200 Days to Not More Than Two 220 Class Days,” of which he is among the principal authors of.
He reiterated that DepEd should instead use the remaining two months to tweak the system.
Ong also recommended that DepEd should also direct private schools to stop requiring full tuition payments and should allow semesterly or quarterly payments because many parents are financially challenged because of the coronavirus pandemic.