MANILA (UPDATE) – At least 134 faculty members of the University of the Philippines-Diliman have called on the school’s administration to “immediately” end the semester, citing challenges in distance learning coupled with the effects of typhoons that recently hit the country.
In a statement issued late Sunday, the faculty members said the recent storms that battered Luzon exacerbated the difficulties faced by UP students and educators with the implementation of distance learning during the pandemic.
“The struggles of the learners are further intensified by the recent calamities, leaving students and faculty from Bicol, Cagayan, Isabela, Marikina, and Rizal, among others, with an indefinite and debilitating loss of electricity and internet connection, destruction of properties and homes, and loss of loved ones,” the faculty members said.
“With only three weeks left to finish the semester, discounting the time needed to recover by those affected by the recent typhoons, the pressure to finish the remaining days of the semester has exacerbated to the point of inhumanity,” the group added.
In calling for an end to the semester, the faculty members also urged the UP administration to halt any additional requirements and implement a “pass or DRP system” instead of a numeric grading system.
Under the system, students enrolled in the first semester will receive a “P” or passing grade by default, except for those who were unable to submit sufficient requirements or attend synchronous classes, according to the statement.
Students requesting for numerical grades, such as those with scholarships, may be given optional requirements upon the discretion of their instructors, the group said.
The group called on the administration to fast-track cash aid, such as internet and gadget allowances, for teachers and salaries of new faculty.
The faculty members also asked for an increase of gadget allowance of Php6,000 in the next semesters and provision for calamity aid,” among others.
Among the signatories is former Social Welfare and Development Secretary Judy Taguiwalo, who teaches at UP’s College of Social Work and Community Development.
Elena Pernia, UP vice president of public affairs, said the administration was thankful for the inputs of the faculty members and would discuss the concerns.
“However, ending the semester at this time is unlikely,” Pernia told ABS-CBN News.
UP started classes last Sept. 10, implementing distance or remote learning after government banned in-person classes due to the pandemic. Classes for the first semester are scheduled to end on Dec. 9.
Before the opening of classes, the UP Office of the Student Regent earlier appealed to the administration to postpone the start of the school year, arguing that some students were unprepared for remote learning.
In early November, around the same time Super Typhoon Rolly ravaged southern Luzon, UP scheduled a mid-semester “reading break” so students and faculty members could adjust to the demands of remote learning.
The university announced on Sunday it was suspending synchronous and asynchronous classes, and submission of requirements from Nov. 16 to 23 to allow affected members of the UP community to recover from the onslaught of Typhoon Ulysses.
-- With a report from Arra Perez, ABS-CBN News