Press Release
May 26, 2020

Tolentino Pushes for Creation of Online Learning and
Distance Education Office in CHED

As the country continues to grapple with the novel Coronavirus disease (COVID-19), Sen. Francis "Tol" N. Tolentino recently called for the creation of an office in Commission on Higher Education (CHED) that will spearhead the implementation of online learning and distance education in higher education institutions (HEIs) across the country to address the changing educational needs of students, especially in times of national emergencies, calamities and health crises.

"Ang problema po kasi natin ngayon eh kanya kanya ang mga educational institutions sa implementation ng online learning. With the creation of a national framework, CHED will prescribe the minimum requirements for the curriculum and will also oversee the 'quality control.'" the lawmaker said, who filed Senate Bill No. 1459.

By amending Republic Act No. 10650, or the "Open Distance Learning Act," the proposed bill will pave the way for the creation of the Tertiary Online Learning and Distance Education Office in CHED to be done in coordination with the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) and the Department of Science and Technology (DOST). In the Philippines, some educational institutions have already started offering online classes, but not all students can participate because of lack of access to technology and connectivity, the lawmaker noted.

He added there were other challenges such as the lack of a comprehensive curriculum and quality standards for online learning and distance education in the country.

With this measure, Tolentino hopes that the newly created office will institutionalize online and distance learning in all colleges and universities by developing the necessary policy guidelines and quality standards for its extensive implementation.

"Oras na para palakasin natin ang ating mga makabagong educational platforms na online at distance learning lalo na at makakatulong sila sa ating mga estudyante na ipagpatuloy ang kanilang pag-aaral sa kabila ng pandemya na ito at iba pang mga sakuna, Tolentino said.

He stressed that the continuing rise in COVID-19 cases has placed education systems around the globe in jeopardy, with school cancellations forcing 1.5 billion students to stay at home. The pandemic forced different countries to embrace online learning tools for student engagement, with countries like the United States ramping up support and development of e-learning platforms to continue to provide a space for educators and learners.

Tolentino also recently batted for an inter-university cooperation between private and state universities and colleges and urged CHED to further develop the rules and regulations for this possible program.

By forging an inter-university cooperation between these institutions, Tolentino said that a college student from the province can finish a degree from another university by completing his units in his local college or university thru online learning and having it credited as such.

This will enable students to pursue higher education in other institutions without having to leave their respective provinces, the lawmaker added.

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