By Merlina Hernando-Malipot
Education Secretary Leonor Briones on Monday said that the Department of Education (DepEd) will not change the schedule for basic education this School Year (SY) 2019-2020 since the school calendar for the coming SY has “already been approved” and will be released by next week.
In a phone interview, Briones said the school opening for the basic education level in public schools will remain in June. “We already have our school calendar as approved by the Execom [Executive Committee] and we will be releasing it by next week,” she said.
Briones stated this in the wake of the recent directive of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) which enjoined all State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) and Local Universities and Colleges (LUCs) to shift their respective academic calendars to August starting this Academic Year (AY) 2019-2020.
The student population of basic education, Briones said, is bigger than that of higher education. Thus, it will be more difficult to make the necessary adjustments – especially involving over 23 million learners from Kinder to secondary level in public schools alone.
Earlier, DepEd confirmed that the opening of classes in public schools will be on June 3.
Briones said that DepEd is “reluctant” when it comes to moving the school calendar to later months due to three major considerations involving both students and learners: school facilities, health, and other activities scheduled during the dry season commonly known as “summer.”
“Our learners are much younger compared to those of CHED,” said Briones. Given this, they might not be able to endure the challenges in schooling during the “summer” months, especially given the facilities in public schools. “This is not to say that we have dilapidated buildings, in fact, we have many new school buildings but these are just one-story buildings and they don’t have air conditioning (units),” she said.
Another consideration in moving the school calendar to later months, Briones said, is health reasons. “Young kids are more prone to childhood diseases, especially those that are common during hotter months like sore eyes, dengue, measles – among others,” she said.
Unlike college students who have a stronger immune system, she noted that smaller children have “lesser resistance” to summer-borne illnesses.
Should classes be held during “summer” months, Briones said it will be a challenge to schools how to deal with the children who are “at risk” under their care. “We might not be able to guarantee the overall health of these learners,” she added.
Lastly, Briones said that changing the school calendar will “clash” with other activities that are scheduled during “summer” months or vacation period.
“Parents look forward to being with their children during the break,” she shared. Teachers, she added, also look forward to the activities during this period. “That’s the time that they are also able to relax and attend to their personal interests,” she noted.
Briones noted that the CHED announcement urging SUCs and LUCs to shift their academic calendar to August does not create a conflict with the basic education.
“Parents and students don’t see any problem with this because some of them prefer longer vacation period,” she said – adding that not all Senior High School (SHS) graduates will automatically go to SUCs or LUCs.