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Pimentel, Villar back September opening of classes

Crossing party lines, two senators from the opposition and the administration expressed yesterday support for proposals to change the academic year opening to September instead of the traditional June.

Opposition Sen. Aquilino Pimentel Jr. said Congress and Malacañang should consider the proposal "to prevent or minimize" disruption of classes due to inclement weather.

Pimentel’s proposal that the regular academic school year in the primary, secondary, and tertiary levels should begin September and end in June to replace the existing June-March school year schedule.

"Summer classes," according to Pimentel should now be held on the onset of the rainy season from July to August of every year.

For his part, Sen. Manuel Villar said resetting the school calendar will spare the children from monsoon rains and floods during the onset of the rainy season beginning June.

Villar said even education officials were sometimes at a loss on when to declare a suspension of classes during these months because of the unpredictability of the monsoon season.

"Parents and children would no longer have to suffer from the inconvenience of going to school on rainy days and wade through floods," Villar said.

President Arroyo earlier said she preferred a September school opening.

Mrs. Arroyo said she wished that children be spared from the hassles of the rainy season, noting that classes had to be suspended because of the monsoon rains and floods.

Mrs. Arroyo said it was more "seasonably adaptable" for schools in the country to open in September than in June.

Pimentel said Congress leaders should take a cue from Mrs. Arroyo’s statement.

Pimentel said Mrs. Arroyo can authorize the revision of the school calendar by simply issuing an executive order.

"Aside from placing undue pressure on parents and students, the loss of school days puts pressure on teachers to finish the prescribed academic curriculum in a shorter period of time," Pimentel said.

On the other hand, Sen. Tessie Aquino-Oreta said Malacañang should seek a congressional approval for the deferment of school opening.

Oreta said Mrs. Arroyo should have initially consulted Education Secretary Edilberto de Jesus on the viability and implications of resetting the school opening.

She said the existing law authored by then Sen. Maria Kalaw Katigbak still needs to be amended before changing the school opening schedule.

Oreta, chairwoman of the Senate committee on Education, said during a public hearing held on the proposal three years ago, only representatives from Metropolitan Manila and Ilocos Region expressed their support for the proposal.

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