August 15, 2017

The Proposed Academic Calendar Shift, Globalization and Modern Day Slavery – NUSP

The National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP) expresses strong opposition to the change in the country’s academic calendar. The change in the academic calendar is not a mere issue of the shift from June to August or September as the opening of classes. Moreover, what is most needed to be underscored is the real raison d’etre behind such shift – the so-called “internationalization” of education to suit the political and economic thrusts of neoliberal globalization under the name “ASEAN Economic Community 2015.”

The Philippines, after Thailand shifted its academic calendar last 2011, is the sole ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) country that follows the June to March calendar. The reasons to such proposed academic calendar revision cited by universities such as the Adamson University (set to start their revised academic calendar this year), the University of the Philippines, Ateneo de Manila University, De La Salle University, and the University of Santo Tomas, and by private schools associations such as the Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations (COCOPEA), could be summed up to one main point: To “internationalize” or “globalize” Philippine education to suit the ASEAN economic integration in 2015. Philippine education is envisioned to be synchronized with the rest of Southeast Asia to facilitate the “free movement of trades and services across the region” and the world over.

However, synchronization simply means a similar academic calendar with other nations in order to serve the political and economic thrusts of globalizing economic mammoths such as the ASEAN and imperialist countries such as the United States of America:

1. A more synchronized academic calendar means a more hegemonic hold on nations for global capitalists. This will push schools to create or further academic courses and programs that will produce cheap and docile labor marketable for global employment. While Filipino students are being packaged as globally competitive and internationally at par with foreign students, this largely means that Filipino students are being honed to leave the country to serve the global masters as global slaves. This is largely undue Filipino students as they should be encouraged to stay in the country and serve their fellow citizens.

2. Change in academic calendar is a change in academic priorities and the patterning of academic programs to produce super-profit for big foreign companies, including ASEAN and U.S. top business corporations. The ASEAN Economic Community 2015 (AEC) is a regional and global economic move supported by the U.S. It will reduce and eliminate barriers to trade in goods, services and investments, including education services. In August 2013, the “ASEAN Business Outlook Survey” prepared by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and AmCham Singapore revealed that more than half of U.S. companies that participated in the survey are strategizing following ASEAN’s neoliberal and global plans as regards reduction and elimination of trades, goods and services barriers. Simply put, the vision of AEC is to create a single market and production base monopolized by the region’s big corporations and the U.S.’ monolithic hegemonizing economy.

3. A revised academic calendar simply means intensification of the commercialization and privatization of education. Aside from additional fees and dues envisioned to be collected by universities and colleges from students to supposedly prep up and facilitate the revised academic schedule, universities and colleges will revise and offer degree programs on-demand by their foreign counterparts and dominant foreign institutions and countries. While masked as an intensified “happy and positive free exchange of international or foreign students,” truth being that Philippine universities adjust their calendars and offer academic programs to attract more foreign students to enroll in their schools, not necessarily for academic growth, but mainly for economic growth.

At the very least, the academic calendar revision is highly impractical for an agricultural and tropical country. The proposed calendar will include the hottest months of the tropical year, and the agricultural calendar will not meet the financial requirements of the new academic shift. While “internationalization” of education has become a buzz word over the decade, and the change in academic calendar is being pumped up as a modern global move, such revisions do not and will not translate to a progressive and transgressive education. Philippine education, with such academic calendar change, is being set to follow the further globalization and commercialization of education and the further entrenchment of a modern-day slavery system in the region.

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