UP faculty call to 'end semester immediately'

At least 228 faculty members of the University of the Philippines (UP) on Tuesday, November 17, signed a petition calling for the university administration to "end the semester immediately" due to remote learning woes, worsened by the consecutive typhoons that battered the country in the past weeks.

In a statement released Sunday night, November 15, UP faculty members said that schools in the country were forced to open classes using online learning despite the lack of infrastructure in remote areas, and that this "broadly discriminates against the students' location and access to information, [and] left many students behind." (READ: No student left behind? During pandemic, education 'only for those who can afford')

"Students and faculty alike are subjected to an unjust workload and mental burden on top of the anxieties that the pandemic has inflicted," the UP faculty said.

They said that teachers were compelled to finish the semester in a mere 13 weeks with "little to no consideration for cancellations and breaks."

The faculty members said that recent calamities affected students' access to education due to an "indefinite and debilitating loss of electricity and internet connection, destruction of properties and homes, and loss of loved ones."

Super Typhoon Rolly (Goni), which came in early November, damaged at least 226 schools. Still recovering from Rolly, Luzon on November 11 then bore the brunt of yet another storm – Typhoon Ulysses (Vamco).

"With only 3 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 UP faculty said.

The UP faculty also called on the university administration to implement a "Pass or DRP" system to replace the numerical grade system. However, exemption should be given to students who need numerical grades for their scholarships and shifting rules.

Aside from this, they also asked for an additional P6,000 for their gadget allowance in the next semesters, as well as "provision for calamity aid and [extending] such assistance to teaching assistants and teaching fellows."

The first semester of academic year 2020-2021 in UP started on September 10 using the remote learning system, and will supposedly end on December 9. (READ: Enrolling in UP this semester? Here's what to expect)

'Hold the gov't accountable'

The faculty members also urged the UP administration to "hold the government accountable for all its injustices and neglect that led to the magnitude of our affliction."

"The country’s premier university should lead in mobilizing other academic institutions to clamor against the incompetence of the Duterte administration," they said.

The faculty members said that the struggles of the academic community will not be over unless President Rodrigo Duterte steps down.

On Sunday, several colleges and universities in the country announced that they would implement academic breaks within November 2020 following recent disasters that hit the country.

In a bold move, students from Ateneo de Manila University – home to the children of some politicians and government officials – pledged to go on academic strike starting Wednesday, November 18, calling out the government for neglecting Filipinos during the consecutive typhoons that ravaged the country. – Rappler.com

Bonz Magsambol

Bonz Magsambol is a multimedia reporter for Rappler, covering health, education, and social welfare. He first joined Rappler as a social media producer in 2016.

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