MANILA - The Commission on Higher Education is advising against a change in the academic calendar, saying the country's weather patterns do not justify a shift in the start of classes from June to August.
In a statement, CHED Chairwoman Patricia Licuanan said it is the prerogative of autonomous higher education institutions (HEIs) to shift to an August school opening.
What matters more, she said, is the schools meet the required number of academic hours within a calendar year.
Licuanan said the commission "does not advise a change in the academic calendar" due to several factors including the weather.
A CHED-Technical Working Group study noted that tropical cyclones, in the last ten years, tend to hit the Philippines between July and September.
"Indeed, class suspensions due to heavy rains and typhoons tend to spike as well from July through October. Thus, shifting the start of the academic calendar from June to August would not make much of a difference," she said.
She also said there is concern for families, particularly those from farming and fishing communities "who would have difficulty with an August school opening because agricultural cycles cause them to run out of financial resources in August, hence a June start is most feasible."
Licuanan said the Department of Education has also advised against an August school opening because classes would last until summer.
A DepEd study noted that summer months in recent years have had temperatures up to 40 degrees Centigrade making learning most difficult.
"In addition there are several long holidays, including Holy Week and fiestas, during the summer months. A DepEd commissioned survey also showed a 95% support for a June to March calendar year," Licuanan said.
The CHED chairperson pointed out that there is no provision in ASEAN Integration about synchronizing academic calendars of HEIs in the region.
She pointed out that the best way to be at par with the global academic community ahead of the ASEAN integration in 2015 is for HEIs to focus on sustaining the quality of academic programs.
At least three universities - the University of the Philippines, University of Santo Tomas and Ateneo de Manila University - are adopting a shift in their academic calendars.
The UP Board of Regents has approved the shift of the academic calendar from June to August starting academic year 2014-2015.
Ateneo said a similar shift in its academic calendar will take effect in 2015.
UST, meanwhile, said the school opening will be moved from June to July starting academic year 2014-2015.