‘Improve the quality of education first’

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Improve first the access and quality of education before shifting the school calendar, a lawmaker said on Monday.

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During the public consultation on tuition increases by the House committee on higher and technical education, Rep. Terry Ridon of Kabataan party-list urged the government and school administration to prioritize first the needs of the Filipino youth before changing the opening of classes, which he believed is merely a step lure foreign students to enroll in local schools.

“What is more pressing is the issue on the quality of education. If you want to invite foreign student here but the quality of our education remains backward, you still can’t entice them,” Ridon said. “What is most important is we should really ensure that our youth go to school and finish their studies.”

Last week, Ridon filed House Resolution (HR) 733 urging the House panel to probe the planned academic calendar shift of several higher educational institutions from June to August.

The resolution called for an inquiry to determine “either the feasibility or non-workability of the [academic calendar shift]proposal and ascertain its ramifications to the education sector.”

The University of the Philippines and Ateneo de Manila University have already changed their opening of classes to August because the rainy season starts in June.

“The August-May calendar is so incongruent with the climate, culture, and orientation of our education system that it poses dire ramifications to our students and faculty,” he said.

In HR 733, Ridon cited the position paper of the National Union of Students of the Philippines which stated three possible effects of the calendar shift to the country’s education system: the creation and prioritization of courses designed to “meet the international demand for cheap labor;” shift academic priorities in line with global demand rather than national need; and the intensification of commercialization and privatization with the expected surge of tuition and other fees brought about by education tourism.

The lawmaker also said that the academic calendar shift runs counter to the country’s agricultural calendar and would vastly affect students from rural areas.

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