Sunday, July 8, 2012

School Opening Transfer 'Requires Study'

.MANILA, Philippines --- Proposals to move the opening of classes from June to September need to be backed by a "comprehensive study," the Department of Education (DepEd) said Friday.

Education Secretary Armin Luistro said the DepEd is meeting with the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) regarding data on weather patterns in the previous years.

"This is to come up with a more evident-based decision on whether it is wise to move the opening of the school year to September," Luistro said.

He said the DepEd has always been open to the proposal for a September opening. "We are not saying no to the proposal. But, we recommend that the current weather conditions and the effects of climate change as well as the frequency of typhoons hitting specific parts of the country be considered when we talk of moving the school opening to September," he said.

While he keeps an open mind on any proposal that will help improve the learning conditions of students, Luistro said "we need to continuously look thoroughly into the advantages and disadvantages should school opening be moved to September."

"As much as possible, we do not want any disruption that will affect our students' learning," he said.

Luistro stressed that whether or not to move the opening of classes to September, "one of the major considerations should be the comfort of our schoolchildren while they are in school."

The DepEd still uses the study conducted almost three years ago regarding the proposal to move the opening of classes to September.

Based on the study conducted by DepEd in 2009, 13 of 16 regions are against moving classes to September.

The survey showed that only Region III (Central Luzon) with 54 percent; Region VI (Western Visayas) (68 percent), and Region IX (Western Mindanao) with 51 percent favor the proposal. Overall, 66 percent were against the move while 34 percent were in favor.

Luistro said the study revealed that "those who opposed said that the high temperature during summer months (April to May) will not be conducive to students' learning."

He added that "during these months, classrooms will need additional ventilation which in turn will increase the schools' electricity bills."

DepEd also cited that during typhoons, floods, and other calamities, "only some parts of the country are affected and only involve a number of schools and a small part of the entire student population nationwide."

"On the contrary, during summer season, the entire country experiences the discomfort hot temperature brings," Luistro said. "And this is what the students in the public schools will have to endure for more than two months."

Among the other reasons cited by the respondents for rejecting the proposal include the usual practice where summer months are spent for family bonding and other activities such as traditional celebrations like Holy Week,town fiestas, and Flores de Mayo.

"These celebrations held during summer would affect the attendance of children in school," Luistro said. For the students, summer vacation is favorable during April to May because some of them "usually work during summer for extra income for their school expenses."

Of 197 school divisions, 145 or 74 percent participated in the survey. The respondents came from schools in divisions nationwide and included teachers, parents, local government officials and other stakeholders.

To address the concerns regarding students missing out on the lessons due to cancellation of classes, Luistro said that DepEd has been exploring various means to still allow affected students catch up with their lessons.

"Right now, we have alternative delivery modes that allow us to continue holding classes even if classrooms are used as evacuation centers," Luistro said. "Our school heads and field officials also employ several strategies such as holding of make-up classes to ensure continuity of learning."