April 18, 2020
Dear NTC Community,
Like a New Flame
I hope that you all had a very good Holy Week. I was quite inspired by Pope Francis’s Easter Message about finding the hope and the courage to overcome the COVID-19 crisis, and would like to share the first part and the end of his Urbi Et Orbi message:
Today the Church’s proclamation echoes throughout the world: “Jesus Christ is risen!” – “He is truly risen!”.
Like a new flame this Good News springs up in the night: the night of a world already faced with epochal challenges and now oppressed by a pandemic severely testing our whole human family. In this night, the Church’s voice rings out: “Christ, my hope, has arisen!” (Easter Sequence).
This is a different “contagion”, a message transmitted from heart to heart – for every human heart awaits this Good News. It is the contagion of hope: “Christ, my hope, is risen!”. This is no magic formula that makes problems vanish. No, the resurrection of Christ is not that. Instead, it is the victory of love over the root of evil, a victory that does not “by-pass” suffering and death, but passes through them, opening a path in the abyss, transforming evil into good: this is the unique hallmark of the power of God.
May Christ, who has already defeated death and opened for us the way to eternal salvation, dispel the darkness of our suffering humanity and lead us into the light of his glorious day, a day that knows no end.
When Pope Francis spoke about how the Good News is like a new flame, I could not help but think about the significance of our Tanglaw at NTC. For us, Tanglaw represents the life, light, wisdom, and intellect which a graduate of National Teachers College is expected to bring forth to our society. In this time of national health emergency, it is this same Tanglaw that gives hope and courage to everybody. Just as light dispels darkness, we, as Pamilyang NTC, can conquer fear and uncertainty by working together and helping each other.
In my last letter, I emphasized that although the current crisis has brought us many fears, anxieties, and concerns, it has also brought out the best in us. Since the implementation of the ECQ, it has been inspiring to see how our Pamilyang NTC has pulled together to deal with the crisis:
- Our school spirit thrives. Inspired by our strong family-oriented school tradition, employees have put up Bayanihan ng Pamilyang NTC. To date, this fundraising initiative has helped students who are currently stranded in their dormitories during the Enhanced Community Quarantine (“ECQ”). All our student and employees can also continue accessing the telehealth services of Konsulta MD. You may also opt to avail of the exclusive offer of Family Doc Clinic for students and employees of NTC. For only P1,500, you and 2 of your family or friends can have unlimited medical consultations at any Family Doc Clinic for 1 year.
- Our learning process never stops. We were able to group our students into 3 categories in terms of connectivity and ability to access our Enhanced Sustained Academic Engagement Arrangement (ESAEA). We remain committed to ensuring that no one will be disadvantaged in terms of academic engagement, and that all students will continue to have Access to Success, regardless of their personal situation. This is why our Academic Council, in coordination with the Office of the Registrar, has given additional flexible guidelines on the management of learning outcomes and student records. We will ensure that everybody will be given understanding, guidance and consideration to help cope with COVID.
- Our flexible learning model continues to be shared. The principles of flexible learning that our school has applied through ESAEA were adopted by the Coordinating Council of Private School Associations (COCOPEA) and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED). NTC continues to work with these institutions to craft learner-centered transition policies, programs, and other forms of assistance that make Philippine higher education more responsive and resilient for students with widely varying circumstances.
- Our Student Government and student leaders continue to have a positive impact. The very proactive disposition of our student leaders has been very helpful. Their engagement in Bayanihan ng Pamilyang NTC has allowed us to reach out to students who are really in need of assistance. Their involvement in the ESAEA Feedback Survey has facilitated the generation of useful feedback and data in improving not only the current learning provisions but also the design of post-ECQ learning programs and policies. They have also effectively communicated our students’ many concerns during these very trying times, in a consistently constructive way.
- Our employees upskill themselves. Through the efforts of the Center for Education Innovation (CEI) and the Academic Council, opportunities for continuing professional development have been provided to our faculty and staff. They have been given access to various online resources, webinars, and training courses to prepare them to manage the new normal in education as a result of this crisis, so that we can teach our students better.
- Our vital services remain accessible. All administrative and academic offices continue to provide solutions to specific concerns about terms of payment, admission, records, guidance and counseling, and academic consultation through our directory of contact details. By ensuring that our principal team members have been given the means to stay connected, we are able to address specific concerns from students, parents, and partners.
I would now like to share with you some key decisions we have recently made, in light of guidance from CHED, as well as our dialogue with key community stakeholders, including via Zoom townhalls we conducted with our employee leaders, Student Government and student leaders earlier this week:
- Academic Calendar Adjustments. The second semester of Academic Year 2019-2020 will officially end on April 30.
- Further ESAEA Guidelines: For students who were able to access ESAEA provisions, grades will be based on pre- ECQ grades and ESAEA. For those unable to complete ESAEA (for any reason), they can complete their requirements at any time between June 1, 2020 and the end of Academic Year 2020-2021 (i.e. May, 2021) for undergraduates, and by the end of August for graduating students. These students will be given maximum consideration and support by their teachers, and we will ensure that no one is disadvantaged because of connectivity issues.
- Refund of Fees. We recognize that there are specific fees for services which have been underutilized during the ECQ. For this reason, the following will be refunded:
- College: 50% of all laboratory fees and instructional materials fees (test paper fee), and 20% of energy fees. The discount for the energy fees reflects the lower electricity costs during the ECQ; please note that the bulk of the energy fees are for the cost and maintenance of air conditioning units, which are being incurred even during ECQ; and
- Basic Education: 25% of all laboratory fees and instructional materials fees (test paper fees), and 10% of energy fees; please note that Basic Education fees are good for a school year, versus a semester for College.
For other services which have been accessible throughout the ECQ, there will be no refund, e.g. Student Affairs, Guidance, Library, Medical Services.
4. Refund Methods. In response to the Student Government’s request that consideration be given to the economic difficulties that many students’ families are currently contending with, we will enable students to receive their refunds in the following ways:
- For students who have not yet paid their current balances, their refunds can be applied against their balances.
- For students who have fully paid their current balances, their refunds will be paid to them in cash.
5. Graduation. We understand how priceless this milestone is to our graduating students. That is why we decided to hold this at the PICC on December 9, 2020 so that all completers can join. After all, they are your batchmates. Once a candidate for graduation has completed clearance by the end of August, appropriate exit documents may already be requested for issuance. We think that your graduation is probably the best Christmas gift you can offer your loved ones.
6. Financial Assistance. Our scholarships and financial assistance program shall continue. You may reach out to our Scholarships Office to understand your options for financing your continuing studies at NTC.
Also, in recognition of the financial challenges many NTC families are facing now, we will extend the payment schedule of outstanding balances for the second semester of SY 2019-2020, until July 31, 2020.
Students will also be permitted to enroll for the first semester of SY 2020-2021, and select their courses, prior to full payment of their outstanding balances for the prior semester.
Additional details regarding enrollment requirements, including a minimal down payment, will be issued shortly.
NTC has been built on our foundational values of nationalism, trustworthiness, commitment to excellence, respect for individuals, and dedication to service. At this time of crisis, such institutional values have guided us well, as we continue to strive to ensure Access to Success. We thank all our learners, their families, our employees, and our partners for working closely with us to beat COVID together.
I encourage all of you to remain connected with Tanglaw in the safest means possible. If you are unable to do so, please do not worry. When you are finally able to reconnect, rest assured our school’s gates will be open for you. Because you are part of Pamilyang NTC, we will do our best to help you recover. For now, we must continue to follow government regulations that will help us flatten the curve of infection. Should you have specific inquiries, please do not hesitate to use our various hotlines.
As one Pamilyang NTC, and inspired by Pope Francis, let us continue to be inspired by the contagion of both hope and courage as we collectively work to beat COVID together.
I hope that you and your families will remain safe, healthy and sound.