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CHEd thumbs down academic calendar shift

/ 09:42 PM March 26, 2014

CHEd chairperson Patricia Licuanan. PHOTO FROM CHED.GOV.PH

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) said it does not advise changing the academic calendar, as the country’s top universities shifted to August to May school calendar, from the current June to March.

In a position paper posted in their website Wednesday, CHEd chairperson Patricia Licuanan said there are more “fundamental” matters than the shift in school calendar.

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Spurred by the upcoming Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) economic integration next year, the country’s top universities synchronized their school calendars with their counterparts in Asean and the region’s partner nations.

Despite the promise of changing the school calendar, Licuanan said the shift does not necessarily “internationalize” the country’s colleges and universities.

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She said there are other more important issues to handle such as the quality of students and whether or not this is at par with international standards.

“This is the essence and challenge of Asean integraton, and the academic calendar is not a major issue,” Licuanan said, adding that there is no provision in the integration about “synchronizing academic calendars” in the region.

Schools were also citing climate change as the reason for changing the calendar. The rains and storms usually greet students when schools open in June.

But Licuanan said the CHEd technical working group noted that tropical cyclones tend to hit the country between July and September in the last 10 years. Also, classes were usually suspended from July to October.

“Shifting the start of the academic calendar from June to August would not make much of a difference,” she added.

Licuanan also said the academic calendar shift has “socio-cultural implications” for families who work in the agriculture sector.  “The farming and fishing communities… (would have) difficulty with an August school opening because agricultural cycles cause them to run out of financial resources in August…” she said.

“Hence, a June start is most feasible,” Licuanan added.

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The chairperson also cited a Department of Education study that showed learning becomes difficulty during the summer when temperature may reach 40 degrees Celsius.

“There are several long holidays, including Holy Week and fiestas, during the summer months. A DepEd commissioned survey also showed a 95 percent support for June to March calendar year,” Licuanan said.

Licuanan also said CHEd was concerned whether or not schools can fulfil the required number of units in the new school calendar.

However, moves in changing the school calendar do not violate any laws or CHEd memorandums, Licuanan said.

Among the schools that shifted to the August to May school calendar, from the current June to March calendar, are the University of the Philippines and Ateneo De Manila University. Meanwhile, the University of Santo Tomas would start their classes in July.

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TAGS: academic calendar shift, Asean, Ched, colleges, Commission on Higher Education, Patricia Licuanan, Universities
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