Moving the opening of classes from June to September stirred much excitement among students from grade school to college. The immediate thought was that, for the time being, this will protract the summer vacation, thus provide them ample time to engage in their craft. Nonetheless, the proposal remains ineffectual until it is approved by the body reposed with authority to sanction the adjustment in school calendar and for reason more compelling than climate change.
A more widely pronounced excuse for the modification is that the frequent occurrences of heavy rainfall in June and July, which generally cause deep flood in most areas in the country especially Metro Manila, result in suspension of classes in all levels. However, with the climate change phenomenon, heavy rainfall does not only happen in the so-called rainy season here in the Philippines. Typhoon occurs in the archipelago even in summer. Thus, another justification emerged and a more logical rationale at that.
Unequivocal as the letters of the alphabet, the other reason advanced was for the Philippine school calendar to be in consonance with that of schools abroad. Administrators of colleges and universities, private and state-run, disclosed, among others, the predicament that faze Filipinos who wish to take enhancement trainings in foreign land but are offered only in the summer season there, that is June and July.
In a similar vein, foreign students who graduated in high school abroad and would like to enroll in the Philippines for college education could only be enrolled in the second semester as classes abroad usually end the schoolyear in the month of June or July. Shifting the opening of classes to a later month will also be beneficial to students in the country who will be sent abroad as exchange students.
On top of these reasons, the Philippines is said to be the only member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) that commences the academic year in June. All the rest of the countries across the globe begin the academic calendar in August, September or October. Lest this be forgotten, the Philippines adopted the K to12 educational system to be in keeping with the international academic system.
The internationalization of the academic calendar may sit well in colleges and universities which are open to adopt foreign enrollees. This is not so, albeit, in case of elementary and high school levels, where cross enrollment in the middle of the schoolyear are rarely permitted.
The Dept. of Education, although articulated its move to study more cautiously the proposed shift, is also taking into consideration the effect of a later start of the school year, especially that the months of April and May are fiesta season in the Philippines. Fiesta is a time where, as a matter of Filipino tradition, families, kin and guests gather for thanksgiving to the patron saint, thus necessitating the teachers, school officials and students to take a quite longer leave of absence. There are likewise localities that declare the fiesta day as non-working holiday.
For every innovation introduced, there are always two sides to weigh. Climate change and internationalization of the academic calendar vis-à-vis the status quo moored on what the people has been acclimatized to besides tradition as earlier stated.
While there are academic institutions that could just easily do the shift, such as the University of the Philippines, Ateneo de Manila and the De La Salle University, sans the assent of the Commission on Higher Education, this does not speak of the general picture of the country’s academic system. There are higher authorities that will have to put all the pros and cons in the balance and lay out a policy that is not lopsided but should rather be progressive, wholistic and humane.
Whatever the result be, this is one thing that the Filipino people will have to either bear or benefit from.