“This is a milestone that we are celebrating here. We are here where everything started. [I] remember we started with a Round Table Discussion in Baguio City last 2019, our first Technical Working Group meeting happened here in Benguet State University in 2020, and now we are back here to make it official by signing the Memorandum of Agreement.” This is what University of the Philippines Open University (UPOU) Chancellor, Dr. Melinda dela Peña Bandalaria, stated as she highlighted how the Consortium of Open and Distance Education Providers in the Philippines (CODEPP) was formalized in the very place where it was first conceptualized.
The Memorandum of Agreement (MOA), signed last 31 January 2023 at Benguet State University, aims to synergize efforts of the eight Distance Education (DE) Providers towards more exchanges of ideas and expertise further to develop the quality of distance education in the Philippines. These DE Providers are Benguet State University (BSU), Cavite State University (CvSU), Central Luzon State University (CLSU), Don Mariano Marcos Memorial State University (DMMMSU), Ifugao State University (IFSU), Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU), and John B. Lacson Foundation Maritime University – Arevalo, Inc (JBLFMU-Arevalo, Inc) and UPOU. The MOA is “a fruit of endless discussions online and contains our commitment and responsibilities as Founding Members,” Bandalaria said.
Based on the MOA, UPOU shall be the Chair of the Consortium for the first two (2) years after its launch as the pioneer and leading institution in open and distance learning in the country. The Secretariat, who is required to be based in UPOU, will be appointed by the Chair. The other founding members will take on the role of coordinators, with whom the management and administration of the Consortium shall be vested, with the objective of achieving the common mission of fostering open distance education in the Philippines. After the two-year Chairmanship of UPOU, other founding members shall take turns assuming the role, in the order that shall be mutually agreed upon among them.
In his opening remarks, BSU Open University Director, Dr. Leonard T. Apilis, provided an overview of the history and accomplishments of the Consortium. “We are here again for a historical milestone to sign the Memorandum of Agreement that spells out the Consortium of all Open and Distance Education Providers in the Philippines,” Apilis remarked. He also highlighted the binding purpose of coming together as a Consortium which is to work together as collaborators and not as competitors, in delivering quality distance education to all Filipinos as mandated by RA 10650 or the Open Distance Learning Law.
Kicking off the event, BSU Glee Club led the singing of the opening prayer and the BSU Hymn. To instill the purpose of the Consortium which is to serve the nation and its people, the BSU Glee Club also delivered a rendition of the song “Pilipinas Kong Mahal.”
BSU President, Dr. Felipe S. Comila, welcomed the Consortium members and expressed his gratitude to the Presidents and Executive Heads of the Founding Members for their collaborative spirit that sets the direction for Distance Education in the country. Comila also expressed his commendation to UPOU for being an exemplar of quality distance education. He also congratulated everyone present at this historical milestone. “Congratulations on coming up with this Consortium. We crafted this one and now, we would like to validate it with our signatures because this is the trend in our country today. We should always have collaboration even in sharing our expertise,” Comila said.
As a symbol of unity and collaboration, Comila led a ceremonial toast to celebrate the forming of the Consortium and the future of the eight Founding Members as they continue to work together.
With the forged commitments on the continuous efforts to push forward distance education in the Philippines, the Consortium scheduled the next meeting in March 2023 in Batac City, Ilocos Norte to be hosted by MMSU.
The ceremony was also virtually attended by MMSU President, Dr. Shirley Agrupis, and JBLFMU-Arevalo, Inc., CEO Dr. Ronald Raymond L. Sebastian, to pronounce their universities’ commitment to move forward with the Consortium to build a more resilient, responsive, and innovative educational system.
DMMMSU President, Dr. Jaime I. Manuel, Jr., also stressed the role of CODEPP as the group moves forward “CODEPP brings us all to realize that we are at the moment of reckoning. The education setting is evolving so fast, we cannot afford to be outpaced by social changes. From here, CODEPP must blaze a trail in Philippine Open and Distance Education… by prioritizing education as a means to advance human liberation and development.”
A Strategic Planning Workshop was also held on 1-2 February 2023 following the MOA Signing Ceremony where Founding Members planned and discussed the three-year plan for CODEPP based on its Vision-Mission-Goal Statement.
The three-day activity of the Consortium wrapped with a tour around Atok, a small town in Benguet known for its flower farms and breathtaking scenery.
Written by Shaira Tanay
Edited by Myra C. Almodiel and Anna Cañas-Llamas