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Students raise gadget concerns at IRR orientation; USG appeals for special exams for those relying on mobile phones

Following the recommendation of owning personal computers in taking summative tests in the orientation for the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of the “care-centered model,” many students raised concerns on lack of gadgets in the time of online classes, especially for courses that would utilize Safety Exam Browser (SEB) for academic year (AY) 2021-2022.

In the live virtual orientation held on September 15, the IRR committee announced the implementation of SEB for courses with board examinations, which they said could prepare students in taking licensure tests amid the virtual setup.

According to Policy Review Development Office (PRDO) Coordinator Jerome Buhay, students will only be given a single attempt when taking the exam via SEB. However, in line with the provisions in the IRR, he said this can be stretched into two as long as students would take the test in a specific time frame.

This prompted students during the open forum to ask considerations for those who only rely on cellular phones and data connections in answering their summative assessments.

Addressing the student’s concern, Buhay said while the University is not requiring students to purchase laptops and computers for online classes,  he is recommending them to provide these gadgets in the current educational setup.

“We are fully online. We are also expecting the student to have their laptops and/or personal computer. We all know we can’t rely on cellphone,” Buhay stated in the forum.

The coordinator added that discussions on the gadget concern would only become a ‘cycle’ if students continue asking how to take the exam without personal computers or laptops.

Recommending an alternative for students who do not have the means to comply with the demands of online classes, Buhay also suggested enrolling in the Home-Based Learning (HBL) program offered by the University. Based on the updated provisions for HBL, only students who have no access to computers, cellphone, laptops, and internet connections may qualify and avail the alternative mode of learning.

Meanwhile, in the earlier part of the forum, Office of Student Services (OSS) Dean Domingo Reblora Jr. said students who would miss their summative test may be given a special schedule, depending on the availability of the teacher.

This is in line with one of the IRR provisions on summative assessments, which states that “the student shall be allowed to complete the missed summative assessment for a period of one day”.

Students call for #NoStudentLeftBehind

Following Buhay’s response, many students in Facebook Live aired their concerns on the comment section, with some students using the hashtag #NoStudentLeftBehind – a nationwide call since the shift to distance learning.

“A system that is against the poor for a school that claims to be for the poor,” a student commented after Buhay’s statement.

Aside from expressing dismay over Buhay’s answer, some students in the comment section also suggested for the University to offer laptops for those who only depend on cellphones in taking examinations.

During AY 2020-2021, DLSU-D offered a ‘connectivity support package’ to upperclassmen that included laptops, computers, and any internet connectivity device but under the condition of ‘flexible and reasonable payment terms’. Freshmen students, on the other hand, received a free pocket WiFi with two months of free load at that time.

Meanwhile, other students also took their sentiments to Twitter and discussed their stances on the recommendation and response from the PRDO.

Appeal for uniform special exams

Following Buhay’s statement, University Student Government (USG) President Niña Ligan called for more consideration from the committee, recommending to formulate special examinations for students who cannot access the exam via SEB.

“I know we’ve been […] fully online this academic year but I believe we also have to consider the financial status of everyone,” Ligan stated.

The USG President said she also recognizes the challenges brought by the pandemic to many families, which have made it harder for them to provide the needs of their children during online classes.

While she understands the difficulty for professors in making special adjustments in giving exams, Ligan reiterated that students are also adjusting and coping up with the burdens brought by the shift to distance learning.

“I think […] habaan pa po natin ‘yung pasensya natin kasi hindi po natin alam kung ano po ba talaga ‘yung nangyayari sa bawat pamilya. So ngayon pa lang po, gusto ko na lang po sabihin sa inyo na if we could do something for these students, then I think we can […] at least provide what is best for them,” she added.

With the President’s response to Buhay’s statement, many students have applauded Ligan’s firm response in the forum, who for them, supported their calls and concerns in the orientation.

On the other hand, Reblora assured students that he will raise their concerns to the Office of Vice Chancellor for Academics and Research (OVCAR), noting Ligan’s motion of coming up with uniform special exams for affected students.

“We are open to suggestions. We will try our best to make accommodations and then give it back to students, especially student leaders for some comments and improvements and sit down again,” Reblora said.

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