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Comelec worried by shift to new school calendar

/ 05:50 PM February 10, 2014

Comelec office. FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—With the country’s top universities announcing plans to move back their academic calendars, the Commission on Elections sees one problem should the Department of  Education decide that public schools follow suit.

“National and local elections are always held on the 2nd Monday of May in schools. So if the academic calendar changes cover public schools, [there would be a] problem,” Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez posted on his twitter account @jabjimenez.

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Jimenez said he was reacting to talk that the change would eventually be implemented at all levels and included public schools as well.

The University of the Philippines and Ateneo De Manila University have announced that they would change their academic calendars from the current June to March to August to May.

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The country’s top universities decided the shift in academic calendars primarily to synchronize their school calendars with other universities in Southeast Asia in light of the proposed economic integration of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations that is due to start next year.

“If the elementary and high school levels are affected, our elections might fall on the schedules of the students’ finals,” Jimenez said, noting that most of the teachers in public schools are required to work as election officials during election periods.

Days leading to the election day, teachers serving as members of the Board of Election Inspectors usually prepare the public schools which would serve as the Comelec’s election precincts.

Even if the election day is declared a holiday, he said, voters would still go in and out of the school buildings right after the elections.

“How about prepping the venues and the cleanup after? What about the schools used as canvassing centers? All in all, there would be disruption,” Jimenez said.

“Why put us in that situation to begin with?” Jimenez said, adding that other factors need to be considered.

Three more Catholic schools are studying to change their school calendars, according to the Catholic Educators Association of the Philippines (CEAP).

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Anthony Coloma, CEAP advocacy and information management officer, said in an article posted on the website of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines that De La Salle University, University of Sto Tomas and the Adamson University were among those studying proposals to change the school calendar.

“We can only show our support to them for taking the step towards a globally competitive education institution,” Coloma said.

Jimenez, however, criticized the  bandwagon on academic calendar shift. “‘Everybody’s doing it so we should too’ doesn’t sound to me like a good enough reason to change the academic calendar. #justsaying,” he said on Twitter.

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