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In 2022, CHED will increase the vaccination rate in HEIs in preparation for larger classes.

One of the important causes in the spread of limited in-person classes in higher education institutions (HEIs) across the country is getting more students, teaching, and non-teaching professionals properly vaccinated against the coronavirus.

With this goal in mind, the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) campaigned for increased school-based vaccination in the fourth quarter of this year, when more students returned to school.

The commission’s efforts were not in vain, since immunization rates among HEI students and staff continue to rise as the new year approaches.

Approximately 87.1 percent, or 255,229, of the 293,058 teaching and non-teaching workers in HEIs nationwide had been vaccinated as of December 29.

CHED Chair J. Prospero de Vera III noted, “This is a considerable rise from the 72 percent immunization rate at the commencement of the vigorous vaccination campaign in October 2021.”

Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) has 95.24 percent of vaccinated HEI workers or 7,940 out of a total of 8,337; Region 3 has 94.08 percent, or 24,831 out of 26,393; Region 2 has 93.78 percent, or 8,604 out of 9,175, and Region 11 has 92.16 percent, or 11,542 out of 12,524 HEI people.

In the meantime, the immunization percentage among pupils increased to 59.7% from 46% in October. This equates to 2,456,667 pupils out of a total of 4,115,988.

43.21 percent of the 2,456,667 people have been fully vaccinated, while 16.42 percent have had their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.

Region 9 has the highest vaccination rate, with 85.38 percent or 123,897 children out of a total of 145,113; Region 3 has 81.12 percent or 321,946 out of 396,866, and CAR has 75.65 percent or 84,436 out of 111,617 students.

“The Commission is pleased to report that vaccination rates among our education front-liners have reached herd immunity levels in many parts of the country, ensuring not only their availability to attend face-to-face classes, but also that they are helping to protect their families and communities from the Covid-19 virus’s rapid spread,” de Vera said.

The CHED, in collaboration with the Department of Health (DOH), the National Task Force (NTF) Against Covid-19, local government units, and partner HEIs, launched the school-based vaccination initiative.

The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) endorsed the CHED’s recommendation to establish in-person classes in HEIs in phases on November 16.

Following the progressive and nationwide introduction of the Alert Levels System for Covid-19, the IATF-EID advocated resuming limited in-person classes for all degree programs in Resolution 148-G.

Under specific conditions, areas designated as Alert Levels 1, 2, and 3 are permitted to offer restricted in-person classes.

Aside from having fully vaccinated teaching and non-teaching personnel, HEIs must limit classroom capacity to 50% and obtain consent from the local government entities in question.

This month, the first round of limited in-person classes began, with HEIs in locations under Alert Level 2 resuming physical classes. Phase 2 will begin in January 2022 and will last until January 2023.

Beneficiaries of free college education

Over 1.6 million students will graduate from 200 HEIs in 2022, thanks to the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act (UAQTEA) or Republic Act 10931, which provided free college education.

President Rodrigo Duterte signed the UAQTEA into law four years ago, and it supports quality higher education by providing free tuition at state universities and colleges, local universities and colleges, and state-run technical-vocational schools.

It also establishes the tertiary education subsidy and student loan program, as well as enhances the unified student loan program and tertiary education financial aid system.

The free tuition and miscellaneous fees are the first components of the UAQTEA, while the Tertiary Education Subsidy (TES) is given to 4Ps families who are on the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s 2.0 list.

“The first is access due to a financial need, while the second is due to a geographic distance from public universities. The final group is a student loan program for students who still require financial aid; we currently have the TES loan program in universities “explained de Vera.

The loan program is aimed at students who are the children of abroad Filipino workers who are unable to meet their academic obligations on time due to a lack of remittances.

“If you repay your loan before the end of the school year, you will pay no interest. As a result, about half a million Filipinos now benefit from the TES, many of whom attend public schools but also attend private colleges “added de Vera.

As the Duterte administration draws to a close, de Vera believes that one of the best investments the administration did was in providing opportunities for young people to become highly educated in 10 to 15 years.

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