By ALYSSA MAE CLARIN
MANILA– Students reiterated their call for the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) to implement mass promotion after news of a fellow student’s death.
On May 16, Kristelyn Villance, a second-year criminology student from Capiz State University, died on her way home after searching for a signal for internet connection so she could submit her school requirements online.
According to Dumarao Municipal Police, her father lost control of the motorcycle they were riding while on their way home. Villance died while she was being transferred to another hospital, while her father sustained minor injuries.
The National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP) said that the incident emphasized the need for an educational system that is compassionate and sensitive to the plight of the students and their families, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“May this serve as a wake-up call to the Commission on Higher Education and the national government,” the NUSP said in a statement.
NUSP reiterated its demands:
1. Suspend online classes and ensure inclusive educational alternative;
2. Stop collection of school fees and impending tuition and other school fees increase;
3. Sustain teaching and non-teaching staff salaries;
4. Uphold democratic rights and student representation; and,
5. Pave the way for gradual reopening of classes
The group also supports House Bill 669, which seeks to ensure that quality education will be available to students through means that protect their health, and is at the same time accessible to all learners.
“Students are exposed to unnecessary risks whenever we go out of our houses to access the internet and comply with school requirements during these difficult times,” the group said.
Students’ life goes beyond academics
President Rodrigo Duterte’s report to the Congress stated that out of the 99 state universities and colleges surveyed by CHED, only six universities opted for mass promotion while others opted to give their students numerical grades depending on their submitted requirements.
The University of the Philippines’ Board of Regents decided to end its current semester last April 30, but said that academic work will continue under a deferred grading system despite receiving opposition from both its faculty and its students.
Pat Villegas is among the students affected by this decision.
Villegas is a graduating student studying philosophy at the University of the Philippines Los Banos campus. He was on campus when the Luzon-wide lockdown was declared but was lucky enough to get home after the Holy Week.
“Students have until May 2021 to complete the requirements in their respective courses,” Villegas explained in an interview with Bulatlat. “Those who could not complete have the option to drop the subject and retake it next academic year, but it increases the possibility of the student being delayed (in graduating).”
He lamented that UP rejected mass promotion in consideration of the University’s “academic prestige.”
“Actually the students, faculty, and staff are against the deferred grading scheme because the remaining requirements are just added burden not only to the students, but to their families as well.”
Villegas was lucky enough that the Philosophy Division of UPLB has agreed to give passing grades to all the students enrolled in subjects handled by members of the division.