EDITORIAL - Stop the folly of tying classes to traffic

The Freeman

If the only reason senator Grace Poe proposed having an early Christmas break for students, ostensibly to free up traffic in Metro Manila and perhaps even in Metro Cebu, is because some parents and other individuals suggested it to her, then clearly it is a proposal not worth considering. It is as flimsy as proposals can go. Had the idea been born of some serious study made diligently, perhaps it might be worth considering.

But whispered to her by some parents and individuals as she herself admitted? For God's sake, how can such a fleeting thought be worthy of even a passing mention in the Senate? And to make matters worse, education secretary Leonor Briones promised Poe her department will give the thought serious consideration. Perhaps Briones was just trying to be nice, considering that she was at the Senate for a hearing on the DepEd's 2017 budget.

But for the love of God, let us stop this folly of thinking that the country's traffic problems are a simple matter of adjusting school schedules during the Christmas season. The proposal is for the Christmas break to be made one to two weeks earlier. Why, even granting that the idea even works for this year, what about next year when there will be hundreds of thousands of vehicles more on the road? Will we make the Christmas break even earlier and have it in November?

Besides, the proposal is not even clear about what it is really about. Is the proposal really about having the Christmas break earlier? Or is it about having a longer Christmas break? The Christmas break for schools right now is about two weeks, starting from a few days before Christmas and ending a few days after New Year. If the two-week break is moved earlier by a week or two, does that mean classes will resume even before the New Year?

On the other hand, if what Poe really meant by her proposal is to make the Christmas break longer by a week or two, meaning there will almost be no more classes for the month of December, then the lost schooldays will have to recovered way into the summer, i.e. way into April or perhaps even into May. And all because whoever are in charge of solving the traffic mess cannot do it, forcing others like Poe to embrace even the most inane of ideas.

Education in this country is already bad as it is without having to make it worse by making it the scapegoat for a mess whose responsibility lies somewhere else. It is not the problem of education that traffic is a mess. It is not the responsibility of students to solve that mess. While it is true the sheer number of students help contribute to traffic congestion, they are not the only contributors to the situation, so why single them out?

If Poe has to look at students as she ponders on traffic, why doesn't she just go all the way and look at the parents as well and ask why they have to keep on making so many babies who will have to become students one day and contribute to the traffic mess, especially during Christmas? Nobody has the quick solution to the traffic mess. But certainly it is not with the Christmas break for students.

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