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After urging youth groups to submit a petition and studies on academic freeze

Students tell CHEd’s De Vera: We already sent academic freeze proposals last July

/ 06:12 PM September 11, 2020

This combination photo shows DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones (left) and CHED chairman Prospero de Vera III (right). FILE PHOTOS

MANILA, Philippines — A youth group advocating for an academic freeze of the school year 2020-2021 has slammed Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) Chairperson Prospero de Vera for looking for petitions and proposals on the issue, as they already submitted one last July.

The Samahan ng Progresibong Kabataan (Spark) said on Friday that student-members forwarded a petition to De Vera’s office, which was covered by various media organizations, due to the classes being interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Spark spokesperson John Lazaro claimed this might be an indication that CHEd and De Vera are not really interested in academic freeze petitions.

“It is incomprehensible how De Vera can have the gall to demand campus groups to submit petitions when they refused to even acknowledge the one that has already been forwarded,” Lazaro said in a statement.

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“De Vera’s inconsistency and insincerity are on full display, as it becomes even clearer that his office will not back an Academic Freeze regardless of evidence we intend to present,” he added.

De Vera said in a press conference on Thursday that students and groups pushing for an academic freeze, that is a total suspension of the school year, should submit “a serious study” on how to do such measures and its possible widespread effects.

“(I suggest to those who are proposing a change in the academic policy to) do a serious study, compute the cost, look at options, look at the parameters and submit it to the commission,” De Vera said in the briefing.

But last July 2, it was reported that Spark made suggestions to the Department of Education (DepEd), which handles primary and secondary education levels, and CHEd which handles tertiary level schools, to postpone the school year.

The basis for this request was the lack of preparedness on the part of the schools, as the educational system shifts to a distance learning mode to avoid coronavirus transmissions.  On the part of the students and teachers, a lot were reported to have no appropriate equipment for online classes.

Spark said this was evidenced by the low enrollment turnout in the early stages of the enrollment period.  Also, several other groups pointed out schemes teachers and students are doing just to get an efficient internet connection — like in the case of Davao de Oro instructors who camped roadside just to get a stable data service.

Spark said that classes must only be conducted again after mass coronavirus testing, to relieve the worries of students.

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The group also believe that De Vera’s recent statements were just attempts to dismiss talks of an academic freeze — especially after the hashtags #AcademicFreeze and #AcademicFreezeNow trended on Twitter.

“There’s no denying that an academic freeze is the most rational and humanitarian response to the in the time of a global pandemic and economic recession and is widely supported by an overwhelming number of students, teachers and parents across the economic spectrum and geographical zones,” Lazaro said.

“If Briones and De Vera refuse to listen to us, then it is only proper that we direct our attention to President [Rodrigo] Duterte, who can declare an Academic Freeze by issuing an executive order,” he added.

JPV

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