In the last quarter of 2013, several universities, including the so-called “big four”, have declared that they are mulling the possibility of moving the start of the academic year from June to September to coincide with that of other countries.
De La Salle University (DLSU), University of Santo Tomas (UST), Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU), and the University of the Philippines (UP) are planning on the move, but to date only ADMU and UP have submitted plans to CHEd regarding the matter. Another autonomous university, Adamson University also expressed willingness to start the school year on September next year, or August, if allowed this coming school year.
Notably, the “big four” are autonomous, which means they have full control of whether they change their academic calendars or not, just as long as they inform the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) regarding the plan.
According to officials from these universities, the proposed move is necessary to align the schools’ academic calendar with that used in Asia and the rest of the world, noting that the Philippines is the only country still stuck in a calendar that starts in June. Most begin school in September but there are those, including Australia, whose academic calendars start in January.
Aside from aligning the academic calendar with that used across the world, the universities also believe that the move would help them better prepare for a big event scheduled in 2015: the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Economic Community (AEC). A number of schools under the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP) also welcomed the idea.
Many of the country’s 2,000+ universities are also thinking of following the big four. However, most of these schools need prior approval from CHEd, prompting the agency to study the effects of the change on the students.
Also, CHEd believes that changing the school calendar for college students could also have an impact on elementary students. CHEd chair Patricia Licuanan reveals that the agency also needs to study the change so that it won’t completely disrupt the local education system.
Licuanan cites weather problems as one of the arguments why the school calendar should remain as is, saying that our country experiences different weather conditions as others in the world. A number of groups also called for the move, so as to spare the kids from typhoons and floods, but Licuanan reasons that these natural events and calamities can also occur in other months.
Assistant education secretary for legal affairs of the Department of Education (DepEd), Tonisito Umali, also disagrees with the move, citing studies that indicate the June-to-March calendar as ideal for the country. He adds that many classrooms across the country are not equipped to provide comfort for students during the hot summer months.