MANILA -- Malacañang is open to the proposal of revising the academic calendar of the country's top universities in line with the integration among members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. on Sunday said changing the school opening from June to September, as is done in other Southeast Asian countries, will pave the way for an "ASEAN mobility" which will allow citizens of ASEAN nations to travel and study in schools with international orientations.
"Layunin din ng panukalang ito ang pagtugon ng ating bansa sa panawagang bigyang-daan ang ASEAN mobility, o ang malayang paglalakbay ng mga mamamayan sa bansang ASEAN upang mag-aral sa mga paaralang may internasyonal na orientasyon, at upang magamit ang kanilang mga kakayahan o talento sa iba't ibang larangang propesyonal," Coloma said.
The Palace's statement came after the country's four top universities -- University of the Philippines, Ateneo de Manila University, De La Salle University and the University of Santo Tomas -- expressed openness to the idea of revising their academic calendars.
However, these universities have yet to make a final decision.
Coloma explained that changing the schedule of school opening of four of the country's biggest universities is allowed by virtue of their autonomy.
"Ang desisyon ng apat sa pinakamalaking pamantasan sa bansa na ilipat ang pagsisimula ng kani-kanilang mga klase ay alinsunod sa kanilang pagiging autonomous at naayon din sa mga konsepto ng ASEAN integration at ASEAN mobility," Coloma said.
He also noted that some colleges and universities are already implementing trimestral or quarterly systems, as opposed to the traditional semestral system.
However, he said further consultation with concerned sectors should be made before implementing changes in their academic calendars.
Coloma said that the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) has already created a high-level technical working group to weigh in on the possible effects of the changes in class openings.
"Ayon kay CHED chairperson Secretary Patricia Licuanan, may nabuo nang high-level technical working group na kasalukuyang tinitimbang ang lahat ng mga salik at masusing sinusuri ang lahat ng opinyon para umabot sa maayos na pagpapasya," he said.
The Palace said it is up to the Congress to initiate the moves that will change the schedule of class openings in the country.
"Ipinauubaya ng pamahalaan sa Kongreso, bilang kapantay at independiyenteng sangay, ang pangunguna sa pagkilos sa paglipat sa schedule ng pagbubukas ng klase dahil ito ay napapaloob sa batas," Coloma said. -- report from Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News