Duterte seeks ‘staggered’ tuition payment amid COVID-19 pandemic

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 29) – In his televised briefing on Thursday night, President Rodrigo Duterte asked the Department of Education to implement a ‘staggered’ type of tuition payment in schools amid the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.

The President added state-owned Landbank of the Philippines can provide financial assistance to parents who would encounter difficulty in paying their children’s tuition.

"Itong Landbank bubuksan namin (We will open Landbank) and you can borrow money to finance the education of your children," Duterte said.

Landbank recently launched its Access to Academic Development to Empower the Masses towards Endless Opportunities (ACADEME) lending program, which is a “study now, pay later” scheme to help private school students continue their education.

The bank’s lending program offers zero interest to students loans.

In his speech, Duterte also emphasized the need to prioritize the education sector despite the financial challenges faced by the national government in its COVID-19 response.

“We are hard pressed in our finances but we have to place the premium on education. The future of this country depends on how we educate our young people nowadays,” the President stressed.

Duterte also praised the Education Department’s alternative learning methods that will reach the students amid the pandemic.

DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones highlighted they will utilize online resources, printed modules, and radio and television programs as the new learning platforms for students in lieu of face-to-face classes.

“I’m impressed with the simplicity of the program and I believe that all that you have said is really feasible: radio, television and all of these things. I believe we have a very workable program and I support you,” said Duterte.

DepEd earlier announced the opening date of classes this year will be on August 24 and the enrollment will start on June 1.

The Education Department is also not allowing face-to-face classes, in compliance with the minimum health standards of physical distancing amid the pandemic.

In his previous public address last Tuesday, Duterte supported the idea of not opening the classes for the upcoming school year unless a vaccine for COVID-19 has been discovered.