Public elementary, high schools will still follow June-March calendar
Ghio Ong, Helen Flores (The Philippine Star) - March 5, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Public elementary and high schools in the country will still follow the June-March academic calendar for school year 2014-2015, Education Secretary Armin Luistro said yesterday.

He said there is no need for parents and students to worry about the much-talked about shift in academic calendar to August or September.

“For school year 2014-2015, we have decided that classes (for public elementary and high schools) will start on the first Monday of June,” Luistro told reporters.

Under Republic Act 7797, the school year shall start on the first Monday of June but not later than the last day of August.

Luistro said only a few schools, mostly higher education institutions, have decided to move their school opening.

The University of the Philippines System, except the UP Diliman campus, and Ateneo de Manila University had announced the shift in their academic calendar from June-March to August-May.

The University of Santo Tomas, on the other hand, has moved its college opening to July beginning next school year.

The change in academic calendar is supposed to be in preparation for the integration of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in 2015.

The Department of Education is part of the high-level Technical Working Group created by the Commission on Higher Education to carefully study the proposal. The panel is set to submit its recommendations to CHED before the end of the month.

Luistro earlier said there is no compelling reason to change the academic calendar for elementary and high schools.

He said unlike in tertiary education, there is no common school opening among ASEAN countries.

Schools in Brunei Darussalam open in January, Cambodia in October, Indonesia in July, Laos in September, Vietnam in August, Thailand in May and Myanmar and the Philippines in June.

Benjo Basas, chairman of Teachers Dignity Coalition, opposed the change in school calendar.

“The weather argument of the proponents has been proven immaterial amid the drastic changes in world climate that made the weather unpredictable,” Basas said.

“Our own school system (basic to tertiary) should integrate first before joining the ASEAN integration,” he added.


Safety of schools

The government committed to increase the safety of schools in the country as part of its engagement to the United Nations Global Program for School Safety.

The UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) yesterday announced the Philippines one of the 15 “Safe Schools Leader-Countries.”

Jerry Velasquez, chief of advocacy and outreach of UNISDR, said leader countries are tasked to promote the three pillars of school safety. These are structural safety, preparedness of school staff and students and inclusion of disaster risk reduction in the school curriculum.

Luistro told UNISDR officials, led by head Margareta Warlstrom, that the government would build more disaster-resilient schools in the coming years.

He said the new classrooms that would be built could withstand an earthquake up to magnitudes 8 or 9, and typhoon with wind velocity of up to 250 kilometers per hour.

The DepEd chief added that the new curriculum for basic education includes lessons related to disasters. He said Grades 11 and 12 (senior high school) will have a special subject on disaster risk reduction.

“We are a good prototype for other schools worldwide,” Luistro said during the launching of the campaign at the DepEd main office in Pasig City.

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