Learning amidst a pandemic
WHEN the government announced the community lockdowns on 16 March 2020, Philippine schools were forced to shift to alternative modes of delivery as face-to-face classes were abandoned for health and safety concerns.
Clearly, the pandemic drastically changed the concept of traditional education where being present in a brick-and-mortar classroom is no longer the only learning system, giving rise to a new breed of teachers and learners.
Online learning pioneer
Nobody saw the coming of this modern-day pandemic. Fortunately, FAITH Colleges has been in the forefront of using of technology in the classroom, ahead of most everybody else. As a pioneer in online learning, FAITH Colleges’ learners and their families have been using Genyo, a Learning Management System or LMS, as early as 2003. A few years after, the Department of Education recognized FAITH Colleges as the Best Implementer of ICT in CALABARZON. FAITH Colleges is a CHED Center of Development for IT since 2017.
Since FAITH Colleges has been delivering online learning for more than 15 years now, the faculty members have a solid experience in online learning. They write, design, and create their own content. They are adept in conducting online classes, and are comfortable with new technology. Further, FAITH Colleges maintains its dedicated 200 mbps internet bandwidth using leased fiber optic to support the faculty in delivering online classes served from the campus.
Leading the way in tech-driven education
In the aftermath of the Taal volcano eruption and in the midst of the outbreak of the pandemic, FAITH Colleges embarked on a recovery and readiness plan covering six areas: Learning Continuity; Alternative Learning Modes; Teacher readiness; Administrative preparedness for enrollment, operations, and finance; Emergency response and preparedness; Control of risks, hazards, and threats from infectious diseases; and Mental health care.
The school took the opportunity to intensify teacher-training, while guidance counseling is a continuing extension program for both employees and students.
And while students continue their education away from campus, the Institution has taken the opportunity to improve the campus, build infrastructure, and acquire new equipment. This is consistent with this campus development plan, which has seen the school to put up dedicated dedicated facilities for its different schools—FAITH Catholic School, Fidelis Senior High, the Tertiary Schools, and the School of Graduate Studies.
Very recently, the Tertiary Schools upgraded the facilities for its Allied Health programs. This involved refurbishing its Nursing laboratory and building two new Medical Laboratory Science (MLS) simulation facilities, including a Molecular Biology laboratory. In addition, laboratories for the school’s College of Engineering were upgraded as well.
The school also took the opportunity to attend to the maintenance of its world–class facilities within its six-hectare campus. For the Christmas season, the school transformed its campus into a Peoples Outdoor Park to give the public a safe outdoor experience that they can enjoy with their families and friends. The outdoor park remains open to the public until 17 December 2021.
Return to campus
With COVID-19 alert levels now on a downtrend, FAITH Colleges recently received a nod from the Tanauan Local Government Unit to hold limited in-person classes. Part of the preparations is preparing its human resource. FAITH Colleges now has a 98% vaccination rate among its academic and administrative staff. In tandem with the Tanauan City Health Office, FAITH Colleges held a series of vaccination drives in-campus for the first and second doses of its students and their families.
Academic and financial systems have shifted online such as student applications, enrollment, transactions via cashless settlement. In preparation for the eventual resumption of face-to-face classes, the campus has now been divided into six independent zones to avoid cross traffic from the different schools and departments.
Accreditations and IB candidacy
Despite the pandemic, the school has worked to maintain its existing accreditation status for its various programs, at the same time pursuing its accreditation with the Philippine Association of Colleges and Universities Commission on Accreditation (PACUCOA) for the following programs: Accountancy, Multimedia Arts, Communications, Electronics Engineering, Industrial Engineering, Computer Engineering, Nursing, Hospitality Management, Tourism Management.
Meanwhile, its Basic Education Schools have applied for and received a confirmation of its candidacy status to offer an International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma program. FAITH Colleges aspires to join the ranks of IB World Schools in order to align its senior high school program with high-quality international education that would meet rigorous assessments set by institutions of higher learning around the world.
Bright Minds, Brave Hearts
As an institution of higher learning and research, FAITH Colleges educates the mind with its science- and technology-based curriculum, softened by humanistic, values-based curriculum.
The pandemic and consequent remote learning setup did not stop the pursuit of excellence among its students. At the 43rd Catholic Mass Media Awards (CMMA), FAITH Colleges students have been named as finalists for Best Public Service Print Ad, Best Public Service Radio Ad, and Best Public Service TV Ad. Meanwhile, John Emmanuel Magtibay made it as a national finalists to the 57th Ten Outstanding Students of the Philippines.
Serving the community
Aligned with its vision and mission of transforming one’s self and the world, FAITH Colleges continues to promote social awareness, community involvement, and sense of volunteerism. Here are some of the community involvement undertakings during the pandemic:
- Batangas Development Summit, an annual gathering of government, academe, and business leaders that discuss opportunities for economic and social development.
- Batangas Economic Recovery Round Table (BERRT) was convened various government agencies and stakeholders from the private sector to bring Batangas back on the road to recovery in the aftermath of the Taal Volcano eruption.
- FAITH Colleges has developed a strong Risk and Disaster Management & Response program as part of its Taal Volcano Eruption Relief Operations and COVID-19 pandemic response.
- Bakwit Finder app, a highly-recognized disaster response effort that made of use of technology. Awarded by the province of Batangas, Bakwit Finder was developed by the faculty members and students of the College of Computer and Information Technology.
- Heroes Meal. Lunch packs were distributed to at least six major hospitals in Batangas as a simple tribute to the COVID-19 frontliners.
- Magulay Ang Buhay is ayuda in the form of vegetable packs, benefitting 100 Balete evacuee families reeling from the Taal Volcano eruption and the COVID-19 community lockdown. The program also benefitted small-time farmers who supplied all the vegetables.
- Digital outreach programs for mental health and wellness in the time of a pandemic
- Leadership Workshops in partnership with the DILG Local Government Regional Resource Center as a member of its Multi-Sectoral Advisory Committee.
- 5th World Day of the Poor and Red Wednesday. In November, FAITH Colleges received an episcopal blessing from the Archdiocese of Lipa for supporting the program of the Lipa Archdiocesan Social Action Commission Inc (LASAC).
Transforming Ourselves. Transforming Our World
The mission of FAITH Colleges is to overcome the learning crisis brought about by the pandemic we are all facing. The challenge today is to reduce as much as possible the negative impact this pandemic will have on schooling, and build on this experience to get back on a path of faster improvement in learning. FAITH Colleges’ response is to responsibly harness technology to close the gap in opportunities to ensure that students are given the same chances for quality education in a world now defined as the better normal.