Faculty members and students from all over the University of Philippines (UP) System have already amplified their calls to the UP administration to end the ongoing second semester and give all enrolled students passing remarks, as a response to the academic uncertainties brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a statement, All U.P. Academic Employees Union (AUPAEU) explained that the UP admin should put an end to the ongoing semester and that the said action will be a great move to prioritize the overall health of its stakeholders.
“Given the uncertainty of how long will this crisis last, our call is to end the semester… Moreover, ending the semester is an expression of how the university puts a premium on the health of its community. It manifests a proactive move towards keeping the physical and mental health of its faculty, students, and staff,” the union stated.
Rushing things to go to a “business-as-usual” mode after the lockdown, as they explained, will be a risky move not only by the university but also the government, as it may cause a new cycle of infections that will compromise the capacity of the government system to manage and control.
UP students clamor for mass promotion
Student councils and organizations from the system also rallied their concerns to give all students a passing remark as they argued that education should be inclusive for all, and no one should be left behind, as a response to the possibilities to resume online classes and extending the semester for a possible traditional learning set-up.
UP Mindanao’s University Student Council (USC) in unity with their local college councils, was one of the first student councils in the system to heave the call to end the semester to their chancellor, backed with data from their student constituents.
They said that based on the survey conducted by the college councils, it is the most pro-student and humane action out of the choices of postponing the semester and ending it with all students having a passing remark.
Appealing to Chancellor Fidel Nemenzo, the UP Diliman USC is also requesting for an urgent moratorium on online classes, and other modes of learning, until a final decision from the UP Board of Regents (BOR) is made. The student body, alongside with the Rise for Education – UP Diliman, also implored to the UP administration for a mass promotion of all students.
The UP Manila USC, meanwhile, aired their concern to stop online classes to their admin. As for the situation in UP Los Baños, [P] reported on the early days of the implementation of that mode of learning, students and faculty members said it was ‘disadvantageous’ (READ: https://uplbperspective.wordpress.com/…/uproar-over-online…/).
The College of Education-based UP Education Society pronounced their support for mass promotion, as the current crisis affected every student’s capability to access quality education.
“Malaki ang maitutulong ng Mass Promotion sa pagpapagaan sa mga pasanin ng mga mag-aaral at kanilang pamilya, kapwa sa kasalukuyan at hinaharap.” they said.
Citing the plans of Ateneo De Manila University’s (ADMU) plans to give free workshops, forums, and lectures adjusted to their curricula, they also called the UP admin to do the same to continue other forms of learning delivery to students.
“Ang mass promotion ay hindi nangangahulugan ng pagbitiw sa layuning matuto. Kailangan nating magkaisa sa paghihikayat sa UP Admin na bumuo ng mga alternatibong magpupunan sa mga natirang kakulangan ng kasalukuyang semestre,” they explained.
According to Student Regent Isaac Punzalan, the UP Presidential Advisory Council (PAC) which is composed of all chancellors in the system, is set to meet on Monday to talk about the rearrangements that will be implemented in the semester, however, the final decision will come from the BOR.
Overall fight of the students nationwide
Moreover, as the broadest and longest alliance of student councils and governments in the country, the National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP) also affirmed the calls of UP and other universities and colleges nationwide to immediately end the semester and proceed with the mass promotion of all students in the country.
“The crisis makes no exemptions. Students stand on the same side as everyone on the receiving end of financial, psychological, and emotional stress brought about by the pandemic. To add academic stress to the pile would only make for a burden even more difficult to bear,” NUSP stated.
Moreover, NUSP Southern Tagalog Spokesperson Charmane Jay Maranan said that terminating the semester and giving passing remarks are the ‘most practical and beneficial thing to do’ for the overall safety and welfare of the students.
“Students should no longer be pressured to pass and achieve requirements given the circumstances. Students are not exempted from the socio-economic impacts of the extended ECQ thus, they too face the challenges of coping with this unprecedented situation,” Maranan said.
Despite this, they are not putting the learnings into waste this semester, so they recommended adjustments for the faculty to make, such as offering audit classes and modules that follow the phasing of the curricula, as they also campaign for quality education for all.
“Administrators then must find ways to bridge the gap on supposed learning objectives and the quality of education that we deserve. Institutes and departments must work hand in hand with the students and professors in ensuring that curriculum and syllabi are adjusted accordingly, that course requirements are suited to the capacity of each student. Most importantly in all these, it is imperative that no student should be denied access to education, no student should be left behind,” Maranan added.
They also demand the school administrators that all graduating students, who satisfied the requirements set to them before the lockdown, should be deemed eligible and cleared to graduate. Refunds of unused school fees should also be made to those students who paid for the semester, as it is their right to get what they paid for, especially to the current economic condition.
Focusing on other concerns
AUPAEU also emphasized that UP, as a research and public university, should affirm its role to extend its resources to help the country to fight the national public health crisis.
“Instead, we should even be more relevant in this time of crisis… Similarly, we call on UP, through its administration, to extend its scholarly and institutional resources across the country for whatever local and national needs at hand. Now is the time to play a bigger role in one of the biggest fights of our lives.” the union said in their statement.
They also reminded that UP stakeholders should focus to ‘call out any form of injustice that might be committed against our people during this time of uncertainty.’
Furthermore, NUSP explained the student’s role to mobilize and help communities more than ever amidst the pandemic, and fight for the democratic rights of the people.
“The priority in each measure our nation is to take during this time must be set on one thing above all: serving the people,” the student union reiterated. [P]