By Meliza Maluntag
(Eagle News) — After two years of lockdown due to the Covid pandemic, New Era University (NEU) in Quezon City received a courtesy visit from the ambassador of the Czech Republic, Her Excellency Jana Šedivá, the first ever European envoy to visit the school.
Ambassador Šedivá said she was honored and happy to visit NEU which she had heard so much about, even before the pandemic.
“I would like to reiterate my keen interest in knowing New Era University that I wanted to visit even before the pandemic but still I am very very grateful that it happened today, she said in her speech at the NEU’s main auditorium, the University Hall, on Monday, March 22.
Ambassador Šedivá thanked the school administration for the very warm welcome she received from the NEU faculty and students that day.
She reiterated her desire to further the collaboration between the NEU and the Czech Republic in education, culture and the arts.
“I look forward for further collaboration with you in the future and hopefully we will be able to conduct maybe some culture-related activity. I am positive that some if not all will come and visit my country, it does not matter if for studies or job or as tourist,” she said.
-Challenges to education during the pandemic-
Šedivá acknowledged the complexity brought by the pandemic that “intersected with other social-economic issues including education.”
“There were many challenges by both teacher and students, and an alternative way of learning was needed to be at par with the current situation,” the ambassador said.
She said that the was “happy to hear” that NEU had coped with the pandemic situation very well with its online and virtual classes that continued even during the lockdown.
Ambassador Šedivá said she first heard about the good quality of learning and excellent system of education in the university from a daughter of one of the embassy staff who is currently enrolled at NEU.
She said that the Czech Republic was one of the first countries to advocate for the reopening of schools and universities for low-risk areas, after a study revealed that prolonged absence of face-to face classes would have a negative impact on the country’s competitiveness and productivity, as well as affect students and teachers.
“We just have to pray that this will become better and better,” she said of the Covid-19 situation.
At present, Šedivá said that the Embassy of the Czech Republic is also an active partner in the European Higher Education Fair which is organised by the Delegation of the European Union to the Philippines in Cooperation with the EU Member States’ Embassies and Cultural Institutes with the participation of the Commission on Higher Education.
“We bring together universities from other countries to speak to the students and professors from Filipino universities and they show each other the opportunities in Czech Republic and Europe,” she said.
-Cultural and educational exchange-
She said that the embassy also partners with universities on various programs, including those on culture.
“I recognize the important role of universities as a harbinger of information,” the ambassador said.
“I really hope that soon we can have something here, I am ready to come and maybe do some lectures on Czech Republic or European Union. So am really looking forward to it. I also hope that one day some of you will come and visit my country,” she said.
During the event, NEU President Dr. Nilo Rosas confirmed the possible collaboration between the university and the Czech Republic such as doing faculty and student exchanges that would benefit both parties.
“We do hope that in the foreseeable future, we can work hand in hand to advance education innovation across the continent bringing our people together in terms of new trends, new knowledge, new innovations, and the like,” Dr. Rosas said.
-NEU innovations towards online learning-
NEU is also catering to the educational needs of its stakeholders by innovating and creating its own Learning Management System, known as New Era University Virtual Learning Environment (NEUVLE) now being used for virtual classes by 18,000 students, the university president said.
This NEUVLE innovation, according to Dr. Rosas, created by the former students of NEU now residing in other countries like Canada, Australia, UK and USA with the collaboration of the IT faculty and alumnae, can be compared to the Canva of the Unites States of America.
Presently, the school administration is now working towards the opening of the limited face-to-face classes.
“We are at the moment working towards the opening of the face-to-face classes that we can proudly say that education in the university has met the challenges of the education head on,” Dr. Rosas said.
(The author is a professor at the New Era University)
(Contributed for Eagle News Service)