Opening of classes in basic and tertiary education

By Dr Rex Casiple

The opening of face-to-face classes in basic education for School Year (SY) 2022-2023 was approved by President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Romualdez Marcos, Jr. and was implemented by the Department of Education through DepEd Order No. 34, series of 2022.

According to this order, the opening of classes in basic education for SY 2022-2023 was on August 22, 2022. Private schools and state universities and colleges (SUCs) that offer basic education may also follow the DepEd’s new school calendar. In this SY 2022-2023, students are gradually going back to school on face-to-face mode.

Face-to-face classes will officially open on November 2, 2022 when all public and private schools in basic education will be holding a 5-day per week in-person classes. During the transition period, schools can implement combined face-to-face classes and distance learning until October 31, 2022.

Since schools are expected to hold classes within the school year for at least 203 days classes will end on July 7, 2023. Reports from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) showed that schools in the Philippines had the longest closure, of 70 weeks, among the 122 countries in the world. The global average of school closure was 20 to 21 weeks.

The COVID-19 pandemic forced millions of students to study at home through various alternative learning modalities or in blended learning. United Nations survey showed that children learned less in the blended learning. Hence this move of the government to hold an in-person classes in basic education resulted to positive feedback from the public specifically from the parents and guardians.

In the tertiary level, for academic year (AY) 2022-2023, most higher education institutions (HEIs) started their classes for first semester in August 2022. Second semester will start in January 2023 and the midyear term will start in June 2023.

HEIs may decide on what appropriate mode of learning applicable to courses offered. This because some degree programs they offer can be taught via flexible learning while other programs really need face-to-face classes, especially those with laboratory subjects or those skills-based programs.

Flexible learning involves a combination of digital and non-digital technology that does not require internet connectivity. However, it is expected that more HEIs may shift back to traditional mode of learning.

Beginning this year 2022, the government allows tertiary schools to hold face-to-face classes with 100% capacity in areas under Alert Level 1. Participating students and faculty members must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. HEIs are also directed to ensure that participating students are registered with PhilHealth, or with equivalent medical insurance, which covers medical expenses related to COVID-19

In this academic year (AY) 2022-2023, all undergraduate students of state universities and colleges and CHED recognized local universities and colleges are entitled to free tuition and miscellaneous fees as per Republic Act 10931 or the “Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act”. The Act exempts eligible college students enrolled in a bachelor’s degree, certificate degree or any comparable undergraduate degree from paying tuition and other school fees.

Aside from this, there are scholarships offered by CHED to Filipino undergraduate students enrolled in public and private higher education institutions (HEIs) through Tertiary Education Subsidy (TES) program under the he Unified Student Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education (UniFAST), an attached agency of the CHED.

Likewise, in order to upgrade the qualification of our teaching and non-teaching staff in higher education, the government through CHED continue to implement the Staff and Instructor Knowledge Advancement Program (SIKAP) this AY 2022-2023. SIKAP is a scholarship grant for HEI’s teaching and non-teaching personnel who are employed or separated from service / discharged within 12 months from date of application.