Inquiry sought on academic calendar shift

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Monday, May 12, 2014

TWO lawmakers have filed resolutions calling for an investigation into the planned academic calendar shift of several higher education institutions (HEIs) to determine its feasibility and ramifications to the entire education sector.

Pasig City Representative Roman Romulo and Kabataan party-list Representative Terry Ridon said officials of those colleges and universities should carefully evaluate the calendar shift since the Commission on Higher Education (Ched) and the Department of Education (DepEd) had expressed concern over the plan.

Both legislators cited reports where Ched Chairperson Patricia Licuanan identified several setbacks posed by the academic shift, including its conflict with the schedule of several licensure examinations in the country.

Ridon added that the DepEd also said there is no urgency to deviate from the usual June opening of classes.

“The DepEd sees no compelling reason for the academic shift to also be implemented for elementary and secondary schools since unlike in tertiary education, there is no common school opening for basic education institutions among Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries,” he said.

He also noted that according to the education department, the current academic calendar is based on the Philippines’ wet and dry seasons, along with the schedule of holidays and cultural festivities.

The University of the Philippines (UP), Ateneo de Manila University, De La Salle University (DLSU), University of Santo Tomas (UST) and Adamson University earlier announced their plans to shift the academic calendar from the current June to March, to either August-to-May, September-to-May or October-to-May calendar.

UP, the country's premier state university, will implement the new school calendar this August.

The proponents said the calendar shift prepares the HEIs for the Asean economic integration by 2015.

It also aims to synchronize the country’s academic calendar with other major universities in other Asian countries, North America and Europe.

But Ridon said that the calendar shift would intensify the commercialization and privatization of education and push Philippine schools to design courses and programs that will meet the international demand for cheap labor.

Ridon also cited a study from Anakbayan Youth stating that the current academic calendar follows the country’s agricultural calendar, which enables students in the rural areas to help their families in agricultural production during planting and harvest season.

“The Ched has also stressed that the bulk of students entering college will come from Philippine high schools who will then experience a huge gap and disruption if they will graduate in March and will have to wait for the August or September opening of classes,” Romulo said.

The two resolutions will be referred to the House committee on higher and technical education. (John Carlo Cahinhinan/Sunnex)

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