By Rjay Zuriaga Castor

PHOTO: Twitter

The plea #LigtasNaBalikEskwela is abuzz with more than 18,500 tweets so far following the pronouncement of the Commissioner on Higher Education (CHED) that flexible learning scheme will be the norm in school year 2021 and the years to come.  

Speaking at a virtual forum on education on Friday, CHED Chairman J. Prospero de Vera II said the commission has adopted a policy that flexible learning will continue and the "old paradigm of face-to-face versus online will now disappear."

Online outrage came to light as teachers, students and the like speak about their concerns and shared stories of their struggles amid the implementation of the blended learning system or flexible learning— a combination of digital and non-digital technology.

Kabataan Party-list Rep. Sarah Elago took to Twitter her concerns and stressed that the  current learning set-up has "taken a toll on students and teachers' health and well-being" citing the apparent "stress and anxiety amid the health and economic crises." 

She added: "CHED must support calls for education relief measures such as internet and communication subsidies. It must provide clear guidance for educational institutions' planning, preparation and financing for the safe, gradual reopening of schools, and resumption of face-to-face classes."

Twitter user Renz Lacorte suggested that "CHED should develop a #LigtasNaBalikEskwela plan which includes the vaccination of students and teachers."

"There must be a roadmap back to normalcy for our schools. Online setup is not (for) everyone. It should not stay," he added, attaching an online petition link that call for prioritization of college students in the COVID-19 vaccination program. 

In a now-trending Facebook post, college student Erika Paras shared that the current educational paradigm has "no learning but compliance."

"CHED please do reconsider your plans in continuing the succeeding academic year thru flexible learning... There's no learning but compliance. College should hone our skills right? Not answering and reading repeatedly. We would like #LigtasNaBalikEskwela better than suffering the same situation throughout," Paras wrote. 

Earlier, De Vera reiterated that resuming in-person classes "run the risk of exposing our stakeholders to the same risks if another pandemic comes in."

"If we go back to the traditional face-to-face, we would have wasted all the investments in technology, in teacher training, in the retrofitting of our facilities," he explained. 

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