The following report recently appeared in the Advent Christian General Conference’s E-News.
“Oro Bible College’s Online Course Launch Yields Re-enrollees and More Hurdles
PHILIPPINES – Due to the pandemic, in August Oro Bible College faced a difficult decision: either offer online courses or no courses at all. The board, faculty and staff made the decision to develop all the online courses they could before the start of the semester in September. Before September, the school had zero online course offerings due to government regulation. Now that same government was not only giving permission, it was mandating online courses as the only means of continuing formal education at the college for the time being.
Now, after one completed semester in this new format, the school is continuing into the second semester, which started on February 11. Dr. Nely Gamayon, Director of Oro Bible College, sent us a progress update this week. Some students from first semester have opted not to reenroll until in-person classes can resume. However, 21 students did reenroll for the all online semester. The enrolled students are from several areas in the southern Philippines including Cagayan de Oro City, Iligan City and Bohol Island.
Reflecting on the first semester’s experience, Dr. Gamayon notes several continuing challenges. The internet infrastructure in the Philippines typically allows for only very slow speeds, if any at all. High speed requires high cost, something neither the school nor most students can afford. Student work is hampered by the fact that most Oro Bible College students do not have computers. “We would have wanted our students to have at least a laptop or tablet, but most of them can only afford cell phones,” says Dr. Gamayon. In addition, many of the required books and resources, which are available at the OBC library, are not easily accessible online. And, as with students everywhere, a feeling of isolation and boredom sets in when not allowed to see fellow students and professors in-person.
The faculty and staff have worked out a solution to the book and resource accessibility challenge for students who live near the college. Dr. Gamayon explains, “We have agreed though that for this second semester, if needed, students can take turns and visit the library on scheduled certain hours, singly and not together, observe distancing, washing of hands, wearing face mask and face shield, no talking to each other and watched by the librarian.”
Dr. Gamayon goes on to say, “We thank God that for the whole semester, he has protected us from the virus and he faithfully provided for our needs. God saw us through in all our difficulties during our preparation for the online course. In spite of all the problems, we saw God’s hand in our lives and ministry at the school. We have four students who have finished their internship at their own churches, and now they are finishing their last semester of the course. Please pray with us as we facilitate the second semester. Please pray with us and for us as we endeavor to finish this academic year with all the academic, physical and financial struggles we are faced with. Thank you for all your support for us and the total ministry of OBC.”
(Used with permission)