Consultations begin on school calendar shift Neil Jayson Servallos – The Philippine Star
January 17, 2024 | 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Education (DepEd) has commenced consultations on reverting to the old academic calendar of June to March, a proposal triggered by the struggle of students and teachers to hold classes during the dry and warm season.
The Teachers’ Dignity Coalition (TDC) said the DepEd held at its central office a consultation with student groups, parents, teachers and other stakeholders regarding the matter.
“The steps for the plan to return to the old school calendar of public schools are being discussed today in a consultation at the DepEd Central Office. The consultation includes groups of students, parents, other stakeholders and teachers,” TDC said.
While the DepEd has yet to reveal what was tackled, Education Undersecretary Michael Poa told a hearing of the basic education committee of the House of Representatives last Monday that the agency has already concluded its study and simulations on reverting to the old academic calendar.
“We actually got the results and simulations on how to go back to the April-May break. Since we are crafting the policy, consultations are important. We will be scheduling consultations… These things have to be discussed thoroughly,” Poa said.
He added that among those who would be consulted are teachers’ associations, employees unions and private schools.
Due to the lockdown and remote learning mode in schools brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, public schools opened their school year in October of that year. The academic calendar opened in August when full onsite classes resumed last year.
Earlier, various groups called for the return to the old school calendar, citing the heat experienced by students last March and April.
The calls have prompted lawmakers to file a bill seeking to revert to the old school calendar of June to March starting school year 2024-2025, stressing that the current school calendar running from August to June is not appropriate for the country.
During last Monday’s hearing, Poa was asked whether the DepEd was open to shifting to the old calendar and he responded in the affirmative, saying they merely need to comply with consultations needed “as this involves policy (change).”
Meanwhile, the DepEd yesterday reminded state and local universities and colleges (SUCs and LUCs) that the extension of the voucher program for Grade 11 students enrolled in their institutions would only be valid this school year (SY 2023-2024).
While the DepEd said it would be extending its senior high school voucher program (SHSVP) to Grade 11 students currently enrolled in SUCs and LUCs this school year, it said that accepting SHS students next school year should be made “in accordance with their charters and charged to their respective funds.”
While such was the case, the DepEd said Grade 12 students in SUCs and LUCs for SY 2024-2025 would also be covered by vouchers for them to finish SHS studies.
The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) earlier said that while SUCs and LUCs should no longer accept Grade 11 students, they may be allowed to let incoming Grade 12 students finish their studies.
During a hearing before the House of Representatives earlier this week, the DepEd said it has decided to extend the voucher program for Grade 11 learners enrolled in SUCs and LUCs, noting that 17,751 Grade 11 students are now “non-voucher recipients” as the subsidy program for SHS learners had already ended.
“The DepEd will be executing a memorandum of agreement with the Commission on Higher Education to formalize the arrangement,” the agency said.
Last week, CHED chairman J. Prospero de Vera III said SUCs and LUCs that still want to continue offering the SHS program need to look for a legal basis and consider the capacity of their institutions and that of regular high schools near them before being authorized to continue accepting Grade 11 and 12 students.
The DepEd’s statement means that if some SUCs and LUCs would continue their SHS programs, they would need to do so without the support of DepEd vouchers to pay for student fees.
“Finally, to avoid a similar situation going forward, we would like to remind our SUCs and LUCs that the DepEd will no longer be extending the SHSVP to Grade 11 learners in their schools beginning SY 2024-2025. Hence, the acceptance of new senior high school learners by SUCs and LUCs shall only be made in accordance with their charters and charged to their respective funds,” the DepEd said.
The agency’s data show that about 160 SUCs and LUCs offered SHS programs before CHED’s directive for all SUCs and LUCs to stop offering SHS programs starting next SY 2024-2025.
SUCs and LUCs offered SHS programs as part of an agreement with the DepEd for the transition period for K-12 from 2016 to 2021, when most colleges and universities would have little to no freshmen.