Solons seek inquiry on universities' academic calendar shift

Posted at 05/10/2014 12:03 PM | Updated as of 05/10/2014 12:10 PM

MANILA - Two lawmakers are seeking a congressional inquiry into the planned shift in the academic calendar of some higher education institutions (HEIs).

Kabataan Party-list Representative Terry Ridon and Pasig City Representative Roman Romulo have filed two separate resolutions before the House Committee on Higher and Technical Education in a bid to determine the feasibility of the plan and its impact on the entire education sector.

They said Congress should carefully evaluate the calendar shift after the Department of Education (DepEd) saw no compelling reason for it, and amid concerns raised by the the Commission on Higher Education (CHED).

In House Resolution 733, Ridon cited reports where CHED Chair Patricia Licuanan identified several setbacks posed by the academic shift, including its conflict with the schedule of several licensure examinations in the country.

"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 countries. DepEd also said the current academic calendar is in line with the Philippines' wet and dry seasons, along with the schedule of holidays and cultural festivities," he said.

He also noted that even the National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP) and youth group Akbayan have rejected the move.

The NUSP believes the calendar shift would intensify the commercialization and privatization of education in the country, he said.

Akbayan, meanwhile, argues 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, Ridon added.

In House Resolution 695, Romulo said the CHED admits the
calendar shift could boost international mobility of students and benefit big universities that can attract more international students.

However, "it has expressed apprehension because of the repercussions on the entire educational system of the Philippines, particularly on the schedule of the entrance examinations of HEIs and the different licensure examinations given by the Professional Regulation Commission," Romulo said.

"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," he added.

The University of the Philippines (UP), Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU), De La Salle University (DLSU), University of Sto. Tomas (UST) and Adamson University (AdU) have announced their plans to shift the academic
calendar from the current June-March to August-May.

The schools said the shift would synchronize the country's academic calendar with other major universities in the world and prepare HEIs for economic integration of the Association of Southeast Asian Nation (ASEAN) in 2015.