Art by Kitty Jardenil
The National Union of Students of the Philippines, an organization of student councils across different universities, has been calling for schools to end the current academic semester following the COVID-19 outbreak in the country and subsequent enhanced community quarantine in Metro Manila. The organization also urged for the mass promotion of students, including graduation clearance for eligible students and refunds of unused school fees.
Such a decision would be the most inclusive option, as not everyone has access to alternative educational tools such as online video-call classes — people have been using the hashtag #NoStudentLeftBehind to voice out their support for the cause.
On April 7, Ateneo de Manila University announced that the current semester has been shortened and will end on May 8. Qualified students will be cleared for graduation, and eligible non-graduating students will receive passing marks and be promoted to the next school year. The university will also issue refunds of tuition fees.
“As someone who is used to studying in coffee shops, I found the first few weeks of home-based online learning to be difficult,” says Kirby, a student at the university. “And in a world that seemed to get crazier by the day, it was challenging to find the proper headspace to actually care about academics.”
“Beyond the matter of internet access, online classes are also just difficult to handle at this time,” adds his fellow student Annicka. “I just couldn’t get into the headspace for the workload without the normal structure of a school day — and worse, with the general public anxiety about the crisis. But the consideration of certain professors was very clear. I appreciated how some took the time to post lectures or save their class livestreams for us to learn at our own pace.”
Kirby says that Ateneo’s decision is compassionate and humane, and supports the best interests of its students. “I absolutely agree with Ateneo’s decision to mass promote their students,” he adds. “Even if many Ateneans had the means to continue online learning, it would have been unfair to those without stable internet access to proceed with any form of graded assessments.”
“I like how Ateneo gave us the option to take a passing grade or still continue with our classes,” Annicka says. “This was considerate of everyone’s needs at this time. They’ve also been having counselors send emails to us as a check-in, to see whether we need a counseling call or such. I’m proud of what the University has done to support both students and society.”