Private schools buck 4-day school week

By Helen Flores, The Philippine Star

Posted at Feb 21 2014 05:01 AM | Updated as of Feb 21 2014 01:01 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Private schools turned down yesterday the proposed four-day school week that was seen to help ease traffic congestion in the metropolis during the construction of major roads this year.

Officials of the Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations (COCOPEA) said the proposal of Metropolitan Manila Development Authority Chairman Francis Tolentino to reduce the number of school days is not the appropriate solution to address traffic jams in Metro Manila.

“That is to me a wrong response to a problem. Let the schools deal with it (traffic). Let them have their own adjustments. They (government) should be more proactive in the way they respond to problems,” Bro. Narciso Erguiza Jr., president of the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP), said in a press conference.

Erguiza suggested that road works can be done during the weekend, every Saturday and Sunday.

“They could also work at night than daytime. Leave it to schools to come up with certain measures,” he added.

COCOPEA president Patricia Lagunda said the MMDA should effectively disseminate its traffic rerouting, while Philippine Association of Colleges and Universities chief legal adviser Antonio Abad urged the government to phase out old vehicles.

“Because of the narrowness of roads and the number of vehicles increasing every year, we should phase out old vehicles 10, 15 and 20 years old. Public vehicles like jeeps and buses must also obey traffic rules,” Abad said.

“Look for other ways to reduce traffic rather than close schools. We are not the one causing the traffic,” he stressed.

COCOPEA vice president Vicente Fabella also noted that there is high correlation between teacher-student contact time and student learning, so reducing the school days by 20 percent would have an effect on the students’ learning.

COCOPEA executive director Joseph Noel Estrada said reducing the number of school days should be left to the affected institutions and must not be region-wide.

“We cannot sacrifice the learning opportunities of students by shutting down schools,” he said.

Tolentino earlier said the four-day school week would help lessen traffic buildup once the construction of 15 government infrastructure projects starts.

Advanced work on Skyway Stage 3, which will complete the Metro Manila Skyway System from Alabang to Balintawak, started last Monday. It is expected to be completed in two years.