2014 school opening still in June

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EDUCATION Secretary Armin Luistro on Tuesday said that the Department of Education (DepEd) will be sticking to the June to April school calendar, even if some of the country’s top universities have already declared to move their academic calendar from August to May in line with the economic integration of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) by 2015.

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Luistro said the education department sees no compelling reason, as of the moment, to shifting the opening of school calendar in the basic education while the technical working group led by the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) is yet to finalize its decision on changing the school calendar.

“We [at DepEd]decided that the opening of classes for preschool, elementary and high school will start on the first Monday of June,” Luistro told reporters in a press briefing.

CHEd has created a technical working group to study the proposed shifting of academic calendar and submit recommendations before the end of March.

The CHEd working group is composed of Dr. Ester Garcia, former CHEd chair and president of the University of the East, Dr. Patricia Bustos-Lagunda, chairman of the Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations (Cocopea), representatives from the Philippine Association of State Universities and Colleges (Pasuc), the DepEd and the National Youth Commission (NYC).

“The DepEd is also a part of that interagency panel that will carefully study, deliberate and review the changing of the academic calendar,” Luistro said.

“There’s no need to rush to move the school opening in the basic education. Only the higher education institutions will the first ones to be affected by the changing of the academic calendar. We will wait for the final decision of the technical working group,” the DepEd chief added.

The University of the Philippines (UP) and the Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) have announced they are shifting to the August to May schedule.

UP will implement the shift starting this schoolyear, and Ateneo will make the adjustment beginning 2015.

De La Salle University (DLSU) and the University of Santo Tomas (UST) have also informed the commission they plan to revise their calendars.

UP and Ateneo said they are changing calendars as part of an “internationalization effort,” noting that the Philippines is the only remaining Asean member with a June-to-March academic year.

UP Los Baños, UP College in Cebu, UP Manila, UP Open University, UP Visayas, and UP Baguio will adopt the new academic calendar in August.

But UP Diliman has not yet declared plan to adopt its school opening as professors resisted the academic calendar shift.

Meanwhile, a teachers’ group also on Tuesday expressed opposition to the school opening, stressing that the weather argument of the proponents has proven to be immaterial amidst the drastic changes in world climate that made the weather unpredictable.

“We oppose the change of school calendar,” Benjo Basas, chairman of the Teachers’ Dignity Coalition (TDC), said in a statement.

“We also urge our own school system [basic to tertiary]to integrate first before joining the Asean integration,” Basas added.

Earlier, Rep. Terry Ridon of Kabataan party-list said that moving the school opening from June to August will lead to expensive “education tourism.”

Ridon predicted a rise in “commercialization and privatization” as a result of the academic calendar shift.

Education tourism, he said, is a rising trend where foreign students enroll in Philippine schools for their undergraduate and graduate degrees, crowding out Filipino students.

Ridon said the August-to-May school year runs counter to the country’s agricultural calendar and would affect students in rural areas.

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