Distance learning act signed into law
by CATHERINE S. VALENTE
President Benigno Aquino 3rd has signed into law a bill seeking to institutionalize open distance learning in higher education.
Republic Act (RA) 10650, or the “Open Distance Learning Act,” signed by Aquino on December 9, seeks to expand and further democratize access to quality tertiary education through the promotion and application of open learning as a philosophy of access to educational services.
The new law also intends to implement distance education as an appropriate, efficient and effective system of delivering quality higher and technical educational services in the country.
This will cover public and private higher education institutions (HEIs) and post-secondary schools in the Philippines that have existing open learning and distance education programs.
These HEIs shall later be authorized as qualified implementers of open learning and distance education programs.
RA 10650 designates the Commission on Higher Education (CHed) to serve as the regulator of HEIs involved in open learning and distance education.
Under the new law, the University of the Philippines Open University is mandated to provide expertise to the CHed to assist the commission in the development of open learning and distance education and in the appropriate use of information and communications technologies in support of quality higher education.
RA 10650 encourages media and telecommunications networks to promote open learning and distance education programs.
Also, the new law provides tax exemption to individuals and organizations that provide appropriate materials, time and delivery support services for the promotion of open distance learning in partnership with the HEIs.
RA 10650, a consolidation of Senate Bill 2274 and House Bill 4553, takes effect upon publication in the Official Gazette or in a national newspaper.