Students should not put up with floods - Drilon

By Caroline Howard, ANC

Posted at Aug 13 2012 03:51 PM | Updated as of Aug 13 2012 11:51 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Just two months into the school year, class suspensions have become de rigueur due to the extensive flooding.

The Department of Education (DepEd) said schools have already lost an average of 5 to 15 school days since classes started in June.

Amid the lengthy class suspensions this month due to non-stop rains and flooding, Senator Franklin Drilon renewed his calls to change the country's school calendar.

"About 160 schools buildings are being used as evacuation centers. Yearly, this happens, it affects the quality of our children's education. I cannot understand the resistance to opening the school year in September," Drilon told ANC's Headstart.

In 2010, Drilon filed a bill seeking to move the opening of classes to September, saying it's much easier to deal with the oppressive heat in the summer months than to put up with floods during the rainy season.

Kabataan Party-list Representative Raymond Palatino said, however, floods are not reason enough to adjust the school opening.

Aside from the reality of climate change, Palatino noted there are other realities to consider like school rehabilitation and harvest season during the summer months.

"With climate change, we experience extreme weather events all year round even during September and October… The summer season is used by schools to rehabilitate facilities, for children to help their families during the harvest and other economic activities. The harvest time in rural areas is when families raise enough money to pay for tuition," Palatino said in an interview on Headstart.

Palatino added that instead of "band-aid" solutions like moving the opening of classes, government should focus on finding long-term solutions to address the flooding.

He said adjustments can be made without necessarily changing the school calendar.

"We should not limit the proposal to shift the school opening from June to September. We can have an innovative school calendar or a flexible school year calendar - shorten the breaks of some schools. Yung semestral, Christmas break, pwedeng paikliin, or dagdagan ng isang linggo ang summer class. Hindi lang one proposal," Palatino said.

The DepEd, citing a 2011 survey, said no matter the weather between June to March, many still prefer to keep the academic calendar the way it is.