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Sunday, July 21, 2024

DepEd ordered to hasten return to old school calendar by 2025

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President Marcos ordered the Department of Education to craft a concrete plan for the proposed shift to the old June-to-March school calendar by next year.

“I asked that from DepEd and I asked Inday Sara to give me a concrete plan already because it seems like we don’t need to wait anymore. And it looks like it’s needed already and I don’t see any objections really from anyone,” Mr. Marcos said in an interview in Pasay City yesterday.

“Hopefully by next year (2025). Yes. By next year it’s done,” he added.

The President highlighted the need to revert to the old academic calendar following the continued disruption of face-to-face classes due to the impact of El Niño and the sweltering heat.

“It’s really important now. So, yes. That’s part of the plan that we are trying to do to bring it back already to the old schedule. I think it will be better for the kids,” Mr. Marcos said.

DepEd earlier said it submitted a more “aggressive” option for the shift in the academic calendar.

“In response to the recent clamor for a more immediate reversion to the April-May school break, the department has already submitted a letter to the Office of the President presenting other options including a more aggressive alternative of ending SY 2024-2025 in March 2025,” the department said.

DepEd Assistant Secretary Francis Bringas said the “most aggressive option” to revert to the old school calendar would be ending the school year 2024-2025 on March 31, 2025, which would only accumulate around 165 school days.

For his part, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, chairperson of the Senate Basic Education committee, thanked Mr. Marcos for calling for an expedited return to the old school calendar by next year.

“We also have to keep in mind that the extreme heat poses a threat to the health, safety, and well-being of our learners and teachers. The heat is indeed unbearable at this time,” he said.

Thousands of schools have been suspending in-person as parts of the tropical country endured dangerously high temperatures.

The months of March, April and May are typically the hottest and driest in the Philippines, but conditions this year have been exacerbated by the El Nino weather phenomenon.

Many schools have no air-conditioning, leaving students to swelter in crowded, poorly ventilated classrooms.

“Even my smartest student is not in the mood to answer questions because it’s very hot,” said Mayette Paulino, who teaches a grade two class of around 27 children near Manila.

She said “students feel tired and seem sleepy” as the heat intensified in the afternoon.

Bheapril Balbin, 37, whose two children attend a primary school near Manila, supported the decision for students to stay home during the hot weather.

“The heat is too much, my children couldn’t take it,” Balbin said.

“Some of their classmates got sick, they had a headache because of the extreme heat. My youngest has asthma, extreme heat is bad for him.”

Massive heat waves across East Asia and the Pacific could place millions of children at risk, the United Nations earlier said.

Global monitors have warned that 2024 is shaping up to be the hottest year on record, marked by climate extremes and rising greenhouse gas emissions.

UNICEF data showed over 243 million children across the Pacific and East Asia were estimated to be affected by heatwaves, putting them at risk of heat-related illnesses and death.

Several countries in the region are currently smoldering in the summer heat, with temperatures nearing record levels as they regularly hit over 40 degrees Celsius.

According to the UNICEF report, children are more at risk than adults as they are less able to regulate their body temperature.

“Children are more vulnerable than adults to the effects of climate change, and excess heat is a potentially lethal threat to them,” said Debora Comini, Director of UNICEF Regional Office for East Asia and the Pacific.

The report said heatwaves and high humidity levels – commonly experienced in the region – can have a deadly effect as the heat will “hinder the body’s natural cooling mechanisms.”

“We must be on high alert this summer to protect children and vulnerable communities from worsening heatwaves and other climate shocks,” Comini said.

The UN projected that over two billion children are expected to be exposed to heatwaves by 2050. With AFP

Editor’s Note: This is an updated article. Originally posted with the headline Marcos eyes return to old academic calendar in 2025

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