Apr 30, 2020

When the first cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in the country, classes were immediately suspended. A few weeks later, the enhanced community quarantine was implemented, leaving the academic community with no choice but to close down campuses. To continue the school year, the academe required students to comply with requirements through online classes.

Not every student can do so. Those who live in and have gone home to the provinces during quarantine may not have stable internet connection, and others may not have the necessary tools to participate in online classes. Meanwhile, other students may also be experiencing financial difficulties with their families due to the quarantine, while others may be experiencing strains on their mental health worrying for the safety and security of themselves and their loved ones.

Schools then have to face the reality of the pandemic’s impact on education. A number of students cannot–both mentally and financially–continue with online classes amid a crisis. As a result, students have called for mass promotion and tuition refunds.

Mass promotion demands that academic institutions provide students with passing marks for the term. It will alleviate the academic pressure felt by students who should not be worrying about grades and class standing at a time of crisis. 

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Ateneo de Manila University was the first to mass promote their students and implement a partial refund on Apr. 7, stating that it is “difficult and unfair to make a judgment of failure” during the pandemic as the term was not and cannot be executed as expected. Other schools have followed suit, such as Mindanao State University and Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila, which both stated that the current semester will have no bearing on the computation of the CGPA and the Dean’s List. These mass promotions did not include students who went beyond allowable absences before the suspension.

On the other hand, universities like the University of Sto. Tomas, University of the Philippines, De La Salle University, De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde and many others have not (yet) decided to mass promote their students. Currently, many student organizations have voiced out their opinions, urging their institutions to cancel online classes, refund unused school fees and mass promote.

 

How do you handle education amid a crisis?

The National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP) released a statement on the recent issue, explaining that the suspension of classes has affected and altered the curriculum and that “[o]nline learning, meanwhile, does not guarantee quality education and excludes those without stable internet access and devices.”

𝗠𝗢𝗥𝗔𝗟 𝗢𝗕𝗟𝗜𝗚𝗔𝗧𝗜𝗢𝗡 𝗔𝗠𝗜𝗗 𝗖𝗢𝗩𝗜𝗗-𝟭𝟵 𝗖𝗥𝗜𝗦𝗜𝗦: 𝗘𝗡𝗗 𝗦𝗘𝗠𝗘𝗦𝗧𝗘𝗥 𝗡𝗢𝗪!𝘾𝙤𝙣𝙩𝙚𝙭𝙩The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has rendered…

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Likewise, the Student Council Alliance of the Philippines echoed the same sentiments while urging the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) to suspend all classes. The UP College of Education student council also believes that once “health is put at risk, education and the welfare of the entire nation also follow.”

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While institutions are adamant about holding online classes, many students and even some faculty members are airing out their concern for quality education. Some teachers without stable internet connection have resorted to giving readings and seatworks for their class—no longer teaching their students online. Even with internet access, lectures and classes cannot be executed properly, especially for courses that require equipment and facilities that are provided within school grounds as in the case of fine arts, medicine and engineering students. 

Students who do have internet access and can accomplish their requirements via online classes share the same opinion with those who do not have the same privilege. The #NoStudentLeftBehind hashtag is their call for inclusivity, expressing that if one student is disadvantaged during this crisis due to reasons out of their control, then the whole student body and academe should acknowledge the inequity of education amid a pandemic. They also denounce the idea that mass promotion is an excuse for laziness, with many explaining that academic institutions should prioritize the plight of the poor and inclusive education rather than forcing them to finish the curriculum in an attempt at normalcy.

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Some schools have proposed the solution to freeze the semester and continue with classes once things are back to normal. There have also been proposals of shifting the academic calendar to make way for remedial classes to which CHED has already given a go signal. While these solutions may be more fair and accessible, it still does not include the less privileged who may not be able afford remedial classes or an extension of semesters as it may only add more financial burden to their families.

The call for mass promotion, at its core, is all about inclusion and an understanding of the plight of the poor. The current crisis should show the academic institutions’ standing for ethical and humane solutions—prioritizing the protection and welfare of the students over grades. However, considering the changes in the education systems, it’s certain that a partial refund of unused fees, compensations and subsidies for academic professionals, and remedial classes for students of all courses to study and practice for subsequent classes must be implemented.

“The crisis makes no exemptions. Students stand on the same side as everyone on the receiving end of financial, psychological and emotional stress brought about by the pandemic,” stated the NUSP. “To add academic stress to the pile would only make for a burden even more difficult to bear.”

 

 

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TAGS: Ateneo de Manila University de la salle university education inclusivity mass promotion schools University of Santo Tomas university of the philippines