The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) has decided to pursue flexible learning in universities beyond 2021, announcing ‘there’s no going back to the traditional, full-packed, face-to-face classrooms.

“From now on, flexible learning will be the norm. There is no going back to the traditional, full-packed face-to-face classrooms. The commission has adopted a policy that flexible learning will continue in School Year 2021 and thereafter,” CHED chairman Prospero de Vera declared on Friday during the Educating our Children in the New Normal webinar.

According to de Vera coming back to the previous setup of face-to-face lectures “would have wasted all the investments in technology, in teacher training, in the retrofitting of our facilities.”

Although the national agency sees this move in a positive light, the same can’t be said about the students themselves.

Youth groups in the country decry CHED’s new policy, saying the decision to implement the current learning strategy will intensify pre-existing problems, specifically in the financial, mental, and emotional aspects.

In an interview with ABS-CBN News, Jandeil Roperos from the National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP) said adopting the setup as the new norm will ‘jeopardize the quality of students’ education.’

Besides this, Roperos said that it should already be obvious to CHED that flexible learning is not a sustainable setup seeing as calls for academic breaks and ease have been more prominent in the last few months.

“Face-to-face classes remain to be the most inclusive and accessible option for education. If CHED wishes to pursue prolonged flexible learning, do they at least give gadget and connection assistance to those in need?” she explained.

“It has been a month since lockdown, and frankly, the bursts of calls for academic breaks and academic ease are taking place as a reflection of how exhausting and unsustainable the current set-up in learning is,” Roperos stressed.

The Kabataan Party-list also had some choice words for the new policy, describing it as “gross negligence of duty to the education sector.”

Representative Sarah Elago said not all students and teachers have been able to comply with the demands of flexible learning.

“It 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,” Elago shared in a Tweet.

“If CHED truly wants students and teachers to perform better, it should support calls to provide student and teacher subsidies and to allocate funding for the safe return to face-to-face classes,” the party-list underscored.

At the height of the pandemic last year, universities and colleges were forced to transition to flexible learning to continue the school year. The new setup saw students and teachers carry out classes through online lectures and modules. 

Want more news like this one? Head over to Nation Builder PH Breaking News Section for the latest updates.

Image credit: Ted Aljibe / AFP via Getty Images