EXPLAINER: Alternative modes of learning as Philippines grapples with COVID-19

Jaehwa Bernardo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 03 2020 05:27 PM | Updated as of Jun 03 2020 09:49 PM

EXPLAINER: Alternative modes of learning as Philippines grapples with COVID-19 1
Students wear face masks at a school in Barangay Batasan Hills, Quezon City on February 3, 2020. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — The coronavirus pandemic has changed how education would be delivered to millions of learners in the country.

Face-to-face learning, the traditional mode which involves physical interaction between students and teachers, is now greatly discouraged to lower the risk of the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

At the basic education level, the Department of Education (DepEd) is offering schools a "menu" of alternatives to physical classes.

Schools and community learning centers, under the guidance of DepEd's regional and division offices, will be allowed to choose among these alternative modes, depending on the available resources for learners and health situation in their locality, the agency said.


Under distance learning, students and instructors are geographically remote from each other. Learners at home may also be supervised by parents or guardians.

According to Education Secretary Leonor Briones' presentation to President Rodrigo Duterte last Thursday, distance learning allows lessons to be delivered to students through the following methods:

  • Printed or digital modules delivered to the homes of the students or picked up by their parents at designated places within coordinated schedules.
  • Online learning resources such as the DepEd Commons.
  • Television or radio-based instruction.

Education officials have also floated the term "blended learning," which refers to a combination of limited face-to-face interaction between student and teacher, and the use of online platforms and printed or digital modules.


Homeschooling, according to the DepEd, provides learners with equal access to quality basic education at home. This can be facilitated by qualified parents, guardians, or tutors who have undergone relevant training.

But the DepEd said the policy on homeschooling remains under review.

The school year for K-12 students starts on August 24 but private schools can start earlier as long as they do not hold face-to-face classes, according to the DepEd.

EXPLAINER: Alternative modes of learning as Philippines grapples with COVID-19 2
Robots standing in place of actual students receive graduation certificates during the “cyber-graduation” of Senator Renato "Compañero" Cayetano Memorial Science and Technology High School in Taguig City on May 22, 2020. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News


At the tertiary education level, the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) has urged schools to implement flexible learning approach.

CHED Chairman Prospero de Vera earlier explained that flexible learning was not limited to online classes or activities. Lessons, he said, may also be delivered through take-home exercises and educational packets.

Siliman University, for instance, is developing a learning management system that can work even without internet connection, De Vera said at a Senate hearing last month.

Colleges and universities can start their school year depending on their learning delivery mode.

Higher education institutions using full online education can open any time after May 31 while those with flexible learning can start in August.

Schools using significant face-to-face mode can open in September, according to the CHED.