Mass passing in universities won't affect quality of 2020 graduates: Villanueva

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 24 2020 06:29 PM

FILE PHOTO: A student poses for her graduation picture with the cityscape in the background as seen from Antipolo City, March 19, 2019. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - Mass passing or mass promotion among students will not affect the quality of graduates this school year, noting that the eduction sector also had to make some adjustment in the face of the coronavirus global pandemic, a senator said.

"I am not worried about the quality of graduates," Senate Committee on Higher, Technical and Vocational Education chair Joel Villanueva on Thursday told ABS-CBN News when asked if he was in favor of mass passing policies being implemented in some universities and colleges.

Several schools and universities have agreed to give passing marks to students with minimal requirements after classes were cut short to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The move however raised concerns from some sectors that it could affect graduates' future performance.

"I am confident that these universities and colleges have provided their students with alternative modes of learning and options to augment what they have learned so far," he said.

"We have to adjust to this new normal. So what needs to be adjusted is the way we study not the quality of learning," Villanueva said.

Villanueva noted that some university professors have provided students with reading lists "so students can study at their own pace even if the semester has abruptly ended."

"Moving forward, I don’t think we will be back to pre-COViD normal anytime soon. Universities and colleges have to look at alternative modes of learning," he said.

The government needs to revisit and strengthen its public WiFi system now that more schools and universities are expected to migrate to online platforms, with physical attendance not possible, the senator said.

"It shouldn’t be a token WiFi connection. Kailangan yung seryoso na puwede mag-livestream [by using the connection]," he said, noting that he would consider launching a Senate oversight hearing on the state of free WiFi connections.

The University of the Philippines earlier thumbed down proposals for mass passing, and instead opted for a "deferred grade scheme."

The Philippine Medical Association also rejected calls to automatically pass board examinees, saying learning and training requirements cannot be waived despite the shortage of medical personnel and health workers fighting COVID-19.