THE POWER OF CHOICE DURING COVID-19 PANDEMIC: Flexible, affordable, quality education for all

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Ensuring the right to education amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the National Teachers’ College (NTC) announced that it is fully embracing flexible remote learning programs this coming school year in its effort to ensure continuity of education, while prioritizing the health and safety of its faculty and students. 

During this time of uncertainty, NTC aims to provide a safe way to deliver classes through modified online and correspondence modules by giving its students the “Power of Choice.” 

This is to enable the university to meet their educational needs amid the pandemic. NTC partnered with experts in remote learning to provide their students the best value in a safe and flexible online learning. This includes MIT-JWEL, which promotes excellence and transformation in education, Mapua University, a leading university in remote learning, Derrick Latreille, a sought-after international learning consultant, and Dr. Edizon Fermin, member of CHED's Technical Working Group on Flexible Learning

“While we understand that parents and students think that embracing digital classroom setup might entail higher costs for them, we are confident that NTC’s efforts will grow to become a new benchmark for accessible, affordable quality education in this difficult time and beyond,” said NTC President, Fred Ayala.

The COVID-19 pandemic has indeed impacted how education is and will be provided to students during these uncertain times. Dr. Edizon Fermin, NTC VPAA, recognized that there were highs and lows in terms of completion and submission of requirements online. 

“There were complaints and pains attributable to the sudden shift to remote learning. But the school prevailed in its mission of enabling access to success. Learning continued and NTC has since moved on as one of the most agile institutions in Flexible Learning,” Fermin added. 

Noteworthy transition 
The noteworthy narrative of transition of NTC to the New Normal was a product of genuine concern for learners and their families. In shifting to remote learning, NTC was able to achieve the following:

Design and implementation of the Enhanced Student Academic Engagement Arrangement (ESAEA) which allowed learners and teachers to exercise reasonable flexibility and leniency in completing the academic year through low-cost distance learning solutions;

Provision of expert advice to the Commission on Higher Education, private educational associations, and public higher education institutions on the implementation of inclusive flexible learning options;

Immediate transition of graduate teacher education into an online modality thus allowing the majority of its students who are DepEd teachers and supervisors all over the country (as far as Agusan Del Norte) to embrace more quickly the rise of remote and flexible learning modalities; 

Quick assistance to severely affected students, employees, families, and community partners through the Bayanihan sa NTC relief and recovery program that includes distribution of basic needs and online psychosocial support;
Enrollment of all students and employees in Konsulta MD for remote health consultation and other medical services;

Non-implementation of increases in tuition and miscellaneous fees, further reduction of certain miscellaneous fees, and relaxation of payment terms,  in recognition of the economic impact of COVID-19 on our students and their families, and consistent with our long-held objective of being one of the lowest cost, high quality academic institutions in NCR;

Enhancement of our scholarship and work-study programs, as well as expansion of student loan offerings, through several education financing partners, to further assist our students and their families during this very challenging pandemic;

Migration of essential institutional processes into remote and online structures for ease and continuity of transaction with the school;

Rapid training of faculty and staff in both wired and non-wired learning solutions that include teaching strategies, open education resources, and assessment processes and in partnership with the MIT’s (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) J-WEL (Jameel World Education Lab) and Mapua University;

Opening of the Alternative and Lifewide Learning Institute at NTC (ALL-IN), one of the few specialized training centers that focused on capacitating teachers, parents, and school administrators in adaptive, innovative, and resilient education provisions; and 

Continued contact with employment partners for the deployment of graduates in emerging sectors.

Quick digital shift  
In March 2020, when announcements about possible school closures were made, the Academic Council of NTC decided to immediately digitize all course outlines and core student resources. 

Within the week when the initial wave of class suspensions was made, NTCians were downloading resources from a central digital repository that would eventually become their courseware for the rest of the second semester. 

“NTC made it a top priority to roll out a clear learning continuity plan as quickly as possible. Instantly, FB messenger and SMS became the new platforms for immediate feedback and interaction between and among students, teachers, and parents,” explained Fermin. 

Guided by the shared values system of the Yuchengco and Ayala groups of companies, NTC was able to sustain its commitment to enable its students who belong to sectors C2, D, and E to continue pursuing their dreams of a better life through education. 

With its key innovation architects coming from the fields of business, educational technology, learning innovation, and constructivist teaching, its programs and services are rapidly morphing into an enviable ecosystem of flexible learning choices for learners from kindergarten all the way to graduate school, providing its students the Power of Choice.

For over nine decades, the institution has been driven by the philosophy of democratic education marked by inclusivity and nationalism. 

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