Saturday, April 19, 2014
MANILA-Senator Juan Edgardo "Sonny" Angara has filed a bill that aims to expand access to education by institutionalizing open learning and distance education throughout the country.
"Open learning and distance education programs in post-secondary and higher education institutions help widen access. Through technology and novel institutional arrangements, such programs allow the youth to gain education without the constraints of being full-time students," Angara said.
The neophyte senator cited a report from the National Statistics Office in 2011 that one out of every eight Filipinos aged six to 24 is considered an out-of-school youth or has not finished college or any post-secondary course.
He also noted that while the Philippines jumped from 65th to 59th in the 2013 Global Competitiveness Index of the World Economic Forum, the country still ranks low in terms of education compared to our neighbors.
According to the Global Competitiveness Index, among ASEAN countries, the Philippines ranked 8th out of 10 in Health and Primary Education, and 6th out of 10 for Higher Education and Training.
"Clearly, access to education remains problematic, stifling the opportunities open to the poor and unemployed," stressed the former congressman from Aurora who previously chaired the House committee on higher and technical education.
Thus, Angara filed Senate Bill No. 2155 or the "Open Learning and Distance Education Act" that seeks to institutionalize distance education in the Philippines.
Distance education is defined as a mode of educational delivery whereby the teacher and learner are separated in time and space, and the instruction is delivered through specially designed materials and methods using appropriate technologies and learning management systems.
Under the proposed measure, course offerings and programs of distance education schools should be comparable in standards, practice and policies to other higher education institutions.
However, the place, pace and mode of study shall be at the option and convenience of the student while the content, context and conduct of examination shall be determined by the institution.
Distance education may be delivered using information and communications technology such as print, audio-visual, electronic or computer technology and virtual classroom.
The Commission on Higher Education (CHED), Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and the University of the Philippines Open University (UPOU) are mandated to provide support in developing and providing high quality programs and offerings in open, distance and online learning.
This support includes training of qualified teachers, curriculum and program development, cyber infrastructure planning, resource sourcing and implementation, school operations and management planning and development, and institutional linkages and networking.
The UPOU, designated as the National Open University, will also be tasked to provide leadership and promote best practices in open learning and distance education in the country.
On the other hand, the CHED and the TESDA will serve as regulators of schools involved in open learning, and will be assigned to formulate and promulgate policies and standards for the effective implementation of distance education in the country.
"No less than the Constitution enshrines an 'education for all' policy as a foremost national goal. On top of establishing a system of free education, the Constitution mandates that the state should protect and promote the right of all citizens to quality education at all levels, and shall take appropriate steps to make such education accessible to all," Angara said.
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