ever since i can remember, there has been this proposal to start the schoolyear in september rather than in june because daw by september the rainy season (july to october) would be almost over and fewer schooldays would be lost due to rains and floods. but always, ALWAYS, such a proposal would be widely thumbed down because it would mean that the hot hot hot summer months, april and may, would see the students and teachers suffering the heat in crowded and poorly ventilated classrooms, not to speak of the matrapik trip to and from school under the hot sun, out in the streets where everything is hot, the cars and tricycles and buses, the pavements and sidewalks, everything gets so hot, “you could fry an egg on the sidewalk” i’ve heard it said, and it’s easy to believe. in recent years, the department of health and pagasa have even taken to issuing health advisories, stay indoors, keep cool, drink lots of water, or risk suffering heatstroke and dehydration.
well, this time, last july to be exact, it was no less than senator drilon who renewed the call for a september-june cycle due to the bad weather then prevailing, heavy rains and widespread flooding, and, oh, how he worries for his granchildren, he said. but what about the summer heat, mr. senator? ok lang, may aircon naman ang mga kotse ng mga apo ninyo? at malamang merong electric fans galore, if not aircons, ang well-ventilated classrooms ng sosyal private schools they go to? pero paano na ang nakararami in the public schools? sorry na lang sila?
salamat na lang at pumalag si deped sec armin luistro: elementary and high school schedules are keeping to the june-to-march cycle, his paramount concern being the effects of intense summer heat on the health and studies of our young. here’s hoping he doesn’t change his tune.
even if we were to factor in climate change, granting, for the sake of argument, a “new normal” in rains a la ondoy and supertyphoons a la yolanda (by the way, ondoy came in october, yolanda in november), it’s not as if the summer months aren’t getting hotter and hotter too, and summers are sooooo long, with rarely any reprieve, unlike the wet season’s rains and floods that come and go. so what if classes have to be suspended, there are ways and ways of making up for that kind of lost time. besides, it seems to me that there’s more that we can do about the heavier rains and widespread flooding, such as reforestation, clearing our waterways, zero waste management, and the like, samantalang the summer heat we can only beat by doing nothing, or as little as possible, unless happily ensconced in air-conditioned homes and offices.
as for the big universities, UP, UST., ateneo, la salle, that seem to be quite eager to shift to the september-to-june cycle and be in synch with the rest of asean when the ASEAN economic community (AEC) kicks off next year, the better obviously to accommodate foreign students and academics, i share CHED’s misgiving that it would lamentably render these universities out of synch with the rest of the country. says CHED head patricia licuanan:
“… it is also important to think of what will happen in relation to Filipino students because the basic education will not change. What do you do with these students coming into college—they graduate in March and they will wait until August to enter college?”
“Some compromise might be necessary. One of these might be a quarterly system or a tri-semester to provide more entry points for foreign students coming in and ours going out,” she said.
“This is not for everybody. Schools should assess if they have enough cross border activity to make it worth it to change their academic calendar. What percent of the school population are we talking about?
“Perhaps they should crunch their numbers first,” Licuanan said, adding that flooding and storms will still be a problem in August and September.
She also said CHED is worried about the repercussions of revising the academic cycle, particularly on entrance and licensure exams.
here’s hoping that licuanan doesn’t change her mind either. i think she and luistro are on the right track, setting the right tone, taking the appropriate attitude toward asean integration: we can be part of the ASEAN economic community without forcing synchronization where it is not advisable because disruptive of, rather than conducive to, the good of the whole.