Palace open to moving school calendar

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang said on Sunday, January 5 that it is open to a proposal to move the opening of classes in colleges and universities to August or September, from June.

"The decision of 4 of the country's biggest universities to move the start of their classes are in line with their autonomous status, and with the concept of ASEAN integration," said Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr in a press briefing over at Radyo ng Bayan.

The University of the Philippines (UP) and the Ateneo de Manila University (AdMU) are aiming for an August school opening, while the University of Sto. Tomas (UST) and the De La Salle University (DLSU) are looking at a September-June academic calendar. Currently, classes in the country begin in June and end in March.

"The proposal is also the country's response to calls for ASEAN mobility, or the freedom of citizens of ASEAN member-countries to study in schools with international orientation, and to use their skiils and talents in various professions," added Coloma.

An ASEAN Economic Community is set to be established in 2015, marking the start of free trade among the organization's 10 member-states allowing free flow of goods and services – education services included. (READ: 8 ways PH higher education can prepare for ASEAN 2015)

However, Coloma stressed that a thorough consultation with all sectors involved should be done.

The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) has already formed a technical working group to examine the school calendar shift proposal. The group is set to convene this month, and aims to provide CHED enough data for a clearer position on the matter by March 2014.

CHED on Saturday expressed its concerns about the proposal, saying that other schools which may follow suit without proper consultation and a solid study to back them up could find themselves with a problem instead. (READ: CHED: School calendar shift not for all)

"Let us also consider that if we change the school calendar of all colleges and universities, the academic calendar of the elementary and secondary schools would be affected as well," explained Coloma.

According to Coloma, the Department of Education has no immediate plans to change the school calendar of elementary and secondary schools, for the following reasons:

Malacañang would leave it up to Congress to take the lead in acting upon the proposed shift in the academic calendar, in accordance with the law. –