Commission on Higher Education (CHED) chairman Prospero de Vera III said Friday that classes in universities and colleges in the country are ready to open in August amidst the country’s continuing struggle against the coronavirus disease pandemic.

“We are ready to open [classes] this August. No ifs, no buts. Learning must continue. We learn as one, we are ready. We are ready because our top universities have been doing flexible learning even before COVID-19,” De Vera said during a virtual presser.

“The other universities have shifted to flexible learning during the quarantine and are moving ahead for the opening of classes. The other universities are also doing the same and we are seeing now a Bayanihan spirit where the top universities are helping the other universities,” he added.

Flexible learning, he explained, is a combination of digital and non-digital technology that could be modular or online.

He also said universities and colleges are allowed to choose the mode of learning that can be applied to them. They could use solely online, pure modular, and a combination of the two.

De Vera mentioned that big universities have already trained their faculty members, but there are still those in smaller universities who are far-flung and are not as prepared.

“A lot of the big universities have been doing a good job for training their faculty members. There are close to 2,000 public and private universities. While I am confident that top universities are very ready, I am concerned that smaller universities, especially those in far-flung areas, may not be as prepared because they don’t have the internal capacity or they have less resources,” he said.

“Walang katapusan itong capacity-building (This capacity-building will not end). We will only be able to address COVID-19 only if we altogether educate and learn as one. I call on the other leading HEIs with expertise in flexible learning to join us in this Bayanihan initiative to help other HEIs,” De Vera added.

Six universities have vowed to offer free training on how to conduct “flexible learning” to faculty members from other universities in preparation for the opening of classes this August as announced Thursday.

The 6 universities are:

  • Philippine Normal University;
  • Central Luzon State University;
  • De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde Manila;
  • Manuel S. Enverga University Foundation;
  • Far Eastern University;
  • Tarlac Agricultural University.

The free training programs will consist of module writing, identifying appropriate tools, and technology support for the flexible learning setting.

“This is not anymore a competition among universities and colleges — COVID has forced us to re-examine the way we look at the higher education to re-examine the way we relate to other universities,” he said.