MANILA – Vaccinating more students, teaching and non-teaching staff against the coronavirus is a key factor in the expansion of the limited number of in-person classes at higher education institutions (HEIs) nationwide .
With this goal in mind, the Higher Education Commission (CHED) lobbied for an intensification of school-based vaccination in the last quarter of this year as more students return to class.
The commission’s efforts have not been in vain as vaccination among HEI students and staff continues to escalate into the new year.
As of December 29, about 87.1% or 255,229 of the 293,058 teaching and non-teaching staff at higher education institutions nationwide had been vaccinated.
âThis is a significant increase from the vaccination rate of 72% at the start of the aggressive vaccination campaign in October 2021,â said CHED President J. Prospero de Vera III.
The regions with the highest number of HEI staff vaccinated are the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) with 95.24 percent or 7,940 out of a total of 8,337 staff; Region 3 with 94.08% or 24,831 out of 26,393; Region 2 with 93.78% or 8,604 out of 9,175, and Region 11 with 92.16% or 11,542 out of 12,524 HEI staff.
Meanwhile, the vaccination rate among college students jumped to 59.7 percent from 46 percent in October. This equates to 2,456,667 out of 4,115,988 students.
Of the 2,456,667, 43.21 percent are fully vaccinated while 16.42 percent have received their first dose of Covid-19 vaccine.
The regions with the highest number of vaccinated students are Region 9 with 85.38 percent or 123,897 out of the total number of 145,113 students; Region 3 with 81.12% or 321,946 out of 396,866; and CAR with 75.65 percent or 84,436 out of 111,617 students.
âThe Commission is pleased to announce that in many parts of the country, the vaccination rate of our frontline education workers has reached levels of collective immunity ensuring not only their availability to participate in face-to-face courses. face, but more importantly, they are helping to protect their families and communities from the rapid spread of the Covid-19 virus, âsaid de Vera.
CHED launched the school-based vaccination campaign with the Ministry of Health (DOH), the National Task Force (NTF) Against Covid-19, local government units and partner HEIs.
On November 16, the Interagency Working Group for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) endorsed CHED’s recommendation to gradually implement face-to-face courses in HEIs.
In IATF-EID Resolution 148-G, the proposed resumption of limited in-person classes for all degree programs following the gradual, nation-wide implementation of the Alert Levels System for Covid- 19.
Areas under Alert Levels 1, 2 and 3 are permitted to conduct limited face-to-face classes under certain conditions.
In addition to having fully immunized teaching and non-teaching staff, higher education institutions need to ensure their classroom capacity is only 50 percent and get approval from their relevant local government units.
Phase 1 of the limited in-person lessons started this month where HEIs in areas below Alert Level 2 have for resumption of physical lessons. Phase 2 will start from January 2022.
Beneficiaries of free college education
By 2022, more than 1.6 million students will graduate from 200 higher education institutions that have participated in the provision of free college education through the Universal Access to Higher Education Act of quality (UAQTEA) or the law of the Republic 10931.
The UAQTEA, which was promulgated by President Rodrigo Duterte four years ago, promotes quality college education by providing free tuition at public universities and colleges, local universities and colleges, and technical and vocational institutions. managed by the state.
It also establishes the program of grants and student loans for higher education and strengthens the unified student loan program and financial aid system for higher education.
The first component of the UAQTEA is free tuition and miscellaneous fees and the second component is the higher education grant (TES) which is granted to 4Ps families who belong to the 2.0 list of the Ministry of Protection. social and development.
âThe first is access because there is a financial need, the second is access because of the geographic distance from public universities. And the last batch, a student loan program for students who still need financial help, we have the TES loan program at universities right now, âde Vera said.
The loan program targets students who are the children of Filipino overseas workers who are unable to pay their academic expenses on time because they are still waiting for remittances.
“If you pay your loan during the school year, interest free, interest zero. So, TES is now enjoyed by almost half a million Filipinos, many in public schools but also in private universities,” he said. Vera said.
As the Duterte administration draws to a close, de Vera said one of the best investments he has made was to empower young people to become highly educated individuals 10 to 15 years from now. (ANP)