Through Republic Act (R.A.) 10650 signed last December 9, Aquino directed the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) to help train qualified teachers and develop a relevant curriculum for open distance learning programs.
Under the new law, these agencies were also tasked to develop appropriate learning materials for these alternative learning programs.
Open learning gives students access to education regardles of their age, geographical location, time constraint and economic situation.
Distance education meanwhile allows a student to learn even while physically separated from his or her teacher.
R.A. 10650 also mandates that students enrolled in open distance learning programs should be given “access to all privileges, opportunities and entitlements that a student similarly situated under the conventional system of instruction may have access to.”
The new law also tasked the University of the Philippine Open University to assist and provide expertise to the CHED and TESDA in promoting best practices in open distance learning in the Philippines.
The legislation also exempted from taxes all donations to open distance learning institutions in the country. The new law further tasked the government to establish “zonal open distance learning centers” in Metro Manila, Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. These centers will help the CHED and TESDA in performing their tasks in connection with alternative learning.
R.A. 10650 likewise encouraged broadcast media and telecommunication networks “to provide as much assistance and cooperation” to universities and colleges offering open distance learning programs.