(This is our third in a series on what students, parents and the general public can expect when school opens next month for some of Cagayan de Oro's Universities and Colleges)
Things are going to be a bit different when students of Cagayan de Oro's four universities resume classes next month.
Most of the city's tertiary level institutions are shifting to online learning as the primary method of instruction in compliance with the guidelines issued by government agencies like the Department of Education (DepEd), Commission on Higher Education (CHED), Local Government Unit (LGU), and the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF).
With one notable outlier.
PHINMA Cagayan de Oro College (COC), whose students primarily come from underserved families, will provide an innovative “4-10” scheme where students will have face-to-face classes four times every 14 days as soon as permitted and while complying with all guidelines for the resumption of classes.
"Distance learning using purely online methods is just out of the question,” said Mark C. Macaventa, PHINMA COC Chief Operations Officer. “Most of our students cannot afford a stable internet connection, so we designed something that matches their needs and situation. We are also designing the system so that we can go full home study if required by IATF, CHED, or LGU rules by providing students with modules at the start of the semester.”
But for PHINMA COC, face-to-face classes cannot truly be replaced. “Our research in PHINMA Education tells us distance learning is not really that effective especially for complicated and technical subjects,” he added. “Nothing matches face-to-face learning, but adjustments need to be made in light of the circumstances.”
When the college begins student orientations on August 24, PHINMA COC will adopt FlexLearning@PHINMAEd. The system was developed by PHINMA Education to enable their students to sustain their education and preserve their quality of learning.
"Although we face a huge uncertainty in this pandemic, we also see a great opportunity to face a meaningful challenge, bearing inspiration to our students in their quest for a better life. Life goes on," Macaventa noted. "And because it is imperative that we continue to move forward, we are poised to deliver a creative and efficient response."
Among the salient features of the new system are the following;
A maximum class size of 25 students (down from 50) to comply with social distancing, reduce the chances of infection, and provide students with close support and mentoring.
A blended learning model consisting of in-campus learning that observes social distancing and off-campus independent learning for the tertiary level.
Modular distance learning for Grades 1-12 where all learning activities will be done at home until the DepEd allows in-person classes.
Remote teacher and peer support systems to help students through this adjustment.
"Teachers will do regular check-ups via texts, messages, or phone calls when students are off-campus. We are already finalizing negotiations with mobile data providers to give the connectivity our students need," Macaventa noted.
But even if the economic status of most of its students has precluded its adoption of distance learning using online systems, PHINMA Education still adopted online systems for ancillary activities such as enrolment and distribution of digital diplomas and transcripts of records (TORs). “We developed these systems so students and parents do not need to go to the campus for these matters,” he added.
PHINMA Education Ever Onward
Last semester, PHINMA COC had some 10,000 students in the tertiary level, about 5,000 in Senior High School, and approximately 1,000 students in their K to 10 program. It currently maintains a Main Campus at Barangay Carmen and a satellite campus at Barangay Puerto.
Although the community quarantine measures mandated by the global pandemic has meant it had to suspend operations from March until August, the college still has managed to retain all of its 144 regular teaching and non-teaching staff as well as extend financial and non-financial aid to its 200 casual teaching and non-teaching employees.
One advantage PHINMA Education has in dealing with the economic fallout from the global pandemic is the strength and flexibility in being a subsidiary of the Filipino-owned conglomerate, PHINMA, which has investments in education, property development, hospitality, and construction materials. PHINMA Education Holdings, Inc. (PEHI) owns and operates seven schools across the Philippines, including PHINMA COC, and manages one in Karawang, West Java, Indonesia.
PHINMA Education has an 80 percent average first-time passing rate for licensure exams with some 81 percent of students getting hired a year after graduation. It has 94 board exam top notchers since its inception in 2004.
"The safety and welfare of our students are paramount, but the continuation of their academic journey is fundamental to their future success. FlexLearning@PHINMAEd will help us and our students continue to advance – ever onward," Macaventa assured. (RMB)
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