State universities in Palawan are developing a “flexible learning scheme” as part of the “new normal” teaching approach for Academic Year 2020-2021.

Palawan State University (PSU) and Western Philippine University (WPU) both stated that they will hold training activities to prepare their faculty to handle the scheme.

PSU president Dr. Ramon Docto said that flexible learning is not only limited with the use of online means and the university is now started its weekly training for teachers that will end until last week of June.

“Hindi siya purely online, this is flexible learning so lahat ng pamamaraan ay gagawin. So we allow the faculty to have a flexible learning scheme, depende sa kanilang capability, ng mga estudyante,” he said.

Docto said that the training is also one of their requirements to those new applicants for teaching posts.

“Iyon ang isang requirement namin na kung may mag-apply na bagong teacher ay hindi siya tanggapin kung wala syang training sa flexible learning. Kasi ngayon ay hindi na tayo purely face-to-face,” he said.

He said that teaching personnels will also undergo trainings with Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and retraining with information and technology (IT) faculty of the university.

As the classes start in next semester, Docto said that the half of the class will be divided into two batch to meet the physical distancing as measure to lessen the risk of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) spread.

“Kung pagbalik natin, pwede na rin magpunta sa school ang mga estudyante pero 50-50 iyon. Halimbawa kung 30 sila, sa araw na ito ay 15 lang. Bibigyan sila kung ano ‘yong mga module na ibibigay sa kanila. The other day, ‘yong kalahati naman para ma-meet din yong physical distancing,” he said.

“At the end of June ay dapat naka-training na lahat ng teachers. Kung ready na ay pwede na kami magklase sa last week of August. Kung hindi pa ready talaga, depende sa panahon natin, pwede tayo sa September,” he said.

Docto said that the opening of classes depends with the changes of situation during the pandemic. He said that PSU could start the classes by September, however, the final examination will be scheduled by January.

“Kapag magklase tayo ng September, ang ating final exam ay January so parang magbakasyon ang mga estudyante, magbalik na lang sila ng final exam sa January. Kung pwedeng August para pwede na sila magbakasyon sa December at mag-end ang semester,” he said.

Docto said that PSU is also starting the flexible learning scheme on its second semester with the use of internet, cellular phones and use of transistor radio.

“Kung may connection sa internet, pwede ang internet. Kung wala naman at may cellphone naman sila, pwede sila tawagan ng professors nila at ipagawa ito, don din nila sagutin. Ngayon kung wala, transistor radio. Nakiusap kami sa mga istasyon na ang instructors ay pwede manawagan don sa radyo sa lugar na liblib, walang signal,” he said.

Meanwhile, WPU president Dr. Julie Hope Evina also said that they will start their training of teachers around month of June or July to follow the flexible learning system as urged by CHED.

“Definitely ay flexible learning talaga kasi ‘yan ang ini-urge ni CHED sa amin, ang flexible learning system. Kaya by June o July ay training of teachers na kami para sa flexible learning system,” she said.

Evina said that based from their survey conducted among students and faculty, majority of the respondents do not have good internet connectivity.

Considering the students residing in island and mountain community, the online class alone as form of flexible learning scheme is disadvantageous and the condition of Palawan’s internet connectivity makes it not feasible.

“Imposible ang online kasi nag-survey kami among our students and among our faculty. Majority talaga ay walang access sa magandang internet connection tapos may certain percentage na wala talagang access sa internet kaya di pupwede sa amin ang online,” she said.

“Kasi kapag sinabing online, it’s real time ang teaching so imposible ang online. Kaya ang tinitingnan namin ay pwedeng modular. Gagawin naman ng mga teacher ang modules and digitized materials na pwede i-send through gc,” she said.

Changes with academic calendar

Docto said that the academic calendar is still on process and the opening of classes for next semester will still depend with the decision of the national government. While the commencement exercise is still up with the changes of quarantine controls.

“Depende yan kasi baka ibabalik tayo sa ECQ ngayon ay wala na talagang commencement exercise na mangyari, maka-graduate lang ang mga bata. Pero kung lumuwag-luwag na at baka sa katapusan ay tanggalin na tayo sa GCQ, baka magkaroon na tayo,” he said.

Based on their discussions, PSU might consider having commencement exercises through college-based ceremonies to lessen the crowd and still practice the physical distancing if the general community quarantine happened to lift by the end of May.

“Kung mahigpit pa rin, pwede na sa after first semester, pwede na magpa-graduation. Kung mag-start na tayo ng August ay matapos tayo ng December or January, iyon ang graduation natin kung halimbawa talagang babalik-balik tayo sa GCQ na yan,” he said.

PSU has started to receive admissions for upcoming freshmen and the university is open for online applications.

While Evina said that WPU will no longer have recognition and graduation ceremonies.

WPU will still have confirmation of graduates after the deadline of submission of requirements for graduating students.

“So lahat ng ga-graduate ngayong taon ay sasabay na lang next year, ceremonies na lang. Though, yong makaka-submit talaga kasi meron kaming iilan na nag-apply na lang for residency, ibig sabihin completed na nila lahat ng requirements pero kailangan nila mag-enroll for second sem para ma-confirm sa graduation,” she said.

The initial plan to open the admission for incoming freshmen is in the month of June, however, due to changes of quarantine controls from modified back to general community quarantine, their initial plan has been affected also.

“At this point, hindi ko masasabi kung kailan talaga,” she said.