Basic school calendar stays – DepEd
Manila, Philippines – The basic education sector will still follow the existing school calendar this school year, Education Secretary Armin Luistro said yesterday, adding that “it is too late to change in time for June, 2014.”
Luistro said the pre-schools, elementary, and high schools under DepEd will still implement the June to March school calendar for school year 2014-2015.
“Any major changes in the opening of the school year for basic education will only be for next year or succeeding years,” Luistro told the Manila Bulletin.
The announcement was made to clarify the school opening dates amidst announcements that a growing number of schools in the tertiary level intend to shift the start of their academic calendars to August.
“Sa taong ito, ang DepEd hindi magpapalit at sigurado na ang opening [of classes] ay sa June,” Luistro said.
However, he clarified that should schools—especially private schools—decide to adopt the August-May academic calendar, they are allowed to do so. Republic Act No. 7797 or “An Act To Lengthen The School Calendar From 200 Days To Not More Than 220 Class Days,” Section 3 states that “The school year shall start on the first Monday of June but not later than the last day of August.”
“But, they need to get DepEd approval since all schools have to inform us and submit their school calendars to DepEd,” he added.
Earlier, two of the country’s biggest universities –the University of the Philippines system, except its Diliman campus, and the Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) announced they will adopt an August-May academic calendar. Many Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) have also expressed their intention to follow that school calendar.
To study the shifting of academic calendar, a high-level Technical Working Group on the Academic Calendar (TWG-AC) has been formed by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED). It is expected to provide recommendations by the end of March.
The TWG-AC is composed of the DepEd with representatives from the Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations (COCOPEA), Philippine Association of State Universities and Colleges (PASUC), and the National Youth Commission (NYC).
DepEd, Luistro said, will be waiting for the findings of the TWG-AC saying that further consultation is needed. “That decision [to move school opening] is not just an education sector decision kasi ang laki ng epekto nito sa business and other communities,” he added.
•‘Not Closed To The Idea’
Earlier, Luistro said that DepEd “is not closed to the idea” of moving school opening later than June but noted that “there is no compelling reason to push for it either.” Philippine HEIs, especially those that have strong international linkages such as UP, Ateneo as well as De La Salle University and University of Santo Tomas—among others—are motivated to change school calendar in preparation for the ASEAN Economic Integration in 2015.
But for basic education, Luistro stressed that unlike tertiary education, “there is no common school opening among ASEAN countries.” Among the reasons cited by DepEd in sticking with the current academic calendar is the “negative impact on learning during the hot months of April and May” since “public schools have no adequate ventilating system or air-conditioning system.”
Last Saturday, an organization of UP faculty members called it “a drastic overhaul of tradition,” and expressed opposition to the shift in academic calendar saying that this “will have an impact on the rhythm of social life and cherished indigenous cultural rituals.”
The members of the Congress of Teachers and Educators for Nationalism and Democracy (CONTEND) said they “are not excited and are very much exasperated” about the adoption of the August-May academic calendar approved by the UP Board of Regents (BOR) last Thursday. It will be implemented starting Academic Year (AY) 2014-201.
In an official statement, the group criticized the move saying that the “baseless claim” would “simply disregard the rich cultural life and peculiar geographical conditions that define each country.”
CONTEND said that education is part of the “cultural and environmental milieu” of the community of learners. “We cannot immediately disregard a long and time-tested tradition of opening classes in June for the simple reason of facilitating the flow of information, students, and academic goods,” the group added.
The group stressed that “changing the calendar should not be reduced to mere question of efficiency and the imperative to accelerate cross-border mobility of students and faculty.” Jumping too quickly into the bandwagon of internationalization, the group stressed, “is not necessarily helpful for our nation.”