UP, other schools’ skipping of full face-to-face classes irks Pia Cayetano

Senator Pia Cayetano presides over the Senate committee on finance’s subcommittee hearing on the 2023 budgets of the Commission on Higher Education and state universities and colleges on Tuesday, September 27.

Senator Pia Cayetano presides over the Senate committee on finance’s subcommittee hearing on the 2023 budgets of the Commission on Higher Education and state universities and colleges on Tuesday, September 27. Screengrab from Senate of the Philippines YouTube video

MANILA, Philippines — Senator Pia Cayetano was outraged on Tuesday that the University of the Philippines (UP) and four other schools were not holding full face-to-face classes.

The four other schools are Cagayan State University, Northern Iloilo State University, South Cotabato State College, and Mindanao State University.

During the Senate committee on finance’s hearing on the 2023 budget of the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) and state universities and colleges, Cayetano questioned the basis of the blended learning implementation of UP-Diliman in Quezon City (QC).

“Mr. President, sino [who is your] liaison officer mo na nagco-coordinate kay (who coordinates with) Mayor Joy Belmonte? Because I sent Mayor Joy Belmonte a long message and asked her, ‘Is it true that QC still has health protocols for the conduct of classes? Because UP is still doing blended [learning] because of QC COVID protocols daw (supposedly),” Cayetano asked UP President Danilo Concepcion.

“So, sino liaison officer mo? Kasi they’re wasting my time!… So bakit naman inaabala niyo ‘yung oras ko?” she lashed out.

(So, who is your liaison officer? Because they’re wasting my time! Why are you wasting my time?)

Concepcion then said they would ask the local government if the policy on physical distancing of classrooms had already been lifted.

“I don’t know about the text of Mayor Joy Belmonte. But, it is true that hindi naman nila pinagbabawal ‘yung face-to-face. Pero sa aking pagkakaalam, hindi pa nila nili-lift ‘yung physical distancing doon sa loob ng kwarto,” the UP official told the senator.

(But, it is true that they are not restricting face-to-face. But from what I know, they have not lifted the physical distancing protocol inside classrooms.)

Cayetano dared Concepcion to hold full face-to-face classes in their university to secure their budget.

“My challenge remains. You want budget? Show me that you’re making an effort to do the most basic: Allow the students to have face-to-face classes. Show me that you’re making that effort. Otherwise, I’ll focus my efforts where they’re more appreciated,” she urged.

The lady senator further pointed out that parents permit elementary and high school students to go to school. Hence, inquiring what the hindrance is for college students, who are older, to do the same.

Citing a study, Concepcion said that younger people are not as vulnerable as individuals in higher education.

However, Cayetano disagreed.

Concepcion defended: “I’m just trying to tell you what the reasons we received during our town hall meeting. I am not making this up… That’s what I’m telling you, and if you don’t believe me, I’m sorry. But it is not my decision to hold mixed or blended learning here in UP.”

He claimed that the concept of reinventing education is currently the subject of debate.

Cayetano concluded her inquiry and asserted that she would not support the budget proposals if she did not see efforts to resume full face-to-face classes.

“I am very open to changes and innovations in the way we teach, in the way we educate. Pero ‘wag nating gawing dahilan ang [But do not use as a reason] COVID which is still being the excuse given when I see this 75[-percent] capacity, 50-percent capacity,” she stressed.

In data issued last March, the CHEd recorded that more than 300 universities were conducting in-person classes.

JPV/abc
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