Press Release
August 5, 2020

Senate panel starts hearing on Tolentino's measure creating office for distance learning

A Senate panel has started tackling a measure authored by administration Senator Francis "Tol" Tolentino seeking to establish an office that will promote online and distance learning.

The Committee on Higher Education, chaired by Sen. Joel Villanueva, conducted a hearing on Wednesday on hearing Senate Bill No. 1459 or "An Act Establishing the Tertiary Online Learning and Distance Education Office."

In his opening statement, Tolentino thanked Villanueva for starting the committee deliberation on his proposal, which pushes for the creation of an agency that will spearhead the government's open distance learning effort amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and other possible crises that may arise.

"With this regard, the Bill proposes the creation of the Tertiary Online Education and Distance Office, under the Commission on Higher Education," said Tolentino.

"The said Office will not only serve as the lead agency for open distance learning but also prescribe minimum curriculum requirements for online and distance learning," he added.

Furthermore, Tolentino said the Office will be at the forefront in the development of necessary policy guidelines and quality standards for the extensive implementation of online and distance learning, especially in times of national emergencies, calamities, and/or health crises.

If enacted into law, Tolentino said the measure will address the void in Republic Act No. 10650 or the "Open Distance Learning Act of 2014 "by reaching out to students in the tertiary level to make use of virtual learning platforms in times of calamity or crisis."

"Amending this Act by creating said Office will eliminate the need for students to take a gap year due to lack of resources or worry about the possibility of being delayed in finishing their studies just so they can avoid the risk of contracting the novel Coronavirus or COVID-19," Tolentino pointed out.

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