June 23, 2017

Students react to UP’s railroading of change in academic calendar: What’s chasing UP?

The National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP) asks: Why is UP and CHED in such a hurry?

Without due consultation with the major stakeholders of the university, the students, and the faculty, research employees and workers, and without an in-depth research and plan for its implementation, the Board of Regents of the University of the Philippines (UP) approved today, February 6, 2014, the shift in UP’s academic calendar.

It should be underscored that such a move’s implications are big and wide, not only for UP and the education sector but for other sectors in society. Such a hurried decision leaves a lot of questions, and uncertainties for the majority of the UP community and the education sector. The railroaded action is a bad precedent. We ask the UP administration and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), in both awe and condemnation:

What are the reasons behind the shift? What does the shift aim to attain? Have stakeholders been consulted?

How much will this change in academic calendar cost the University and the education sector? What are the additional costs to prepare for and implement such? Who will shoulder such expenses? Will there be additional fees that UP will collect from the students?

What will happen to the faculty, research employees and workers before, during and after such shift?

What’s new with “integration”? International linkages and integration have long been extant in UP. Why is there a need to change the academic calendar for such integration?

Why prioritize foreign exchange student programs over addressing the internal needs of UP students and ensuring the quality of education? Yolanda-surged Tacloban students and UP students, are still facing the high cost of UP education. Will it really matter if each academic year starts on August rather than June? Will leaving the rainy season address the lack of classrooms, facilities, teachers, and the like?

Where is democracy and integrity in UP? Why impose such without consulting the students and employees who will be directly affected by the academic calendar shift?

Will the change in academic calendar address the real state of UP and Philippine education? Will UP and education be more affordable, accessible, free? Will more students be able to enroll in UP?

The UP administration should stop the implementation of the academic calendar shift, explain why it has hurriedly decided to change the academic calendar, and instead of insisting on this problematic project, address pressing issues regarding tuition hikes, commercialization and low education quality.

For students, parents and faculty the shift will bring about no considerable change in the quality of education in UP and in the country. Instead, it will be an unnecessary burden to the education sector which is already confronting a deepening and worsening crisis.

Using changing weather patterns and seasons as reason behind the shift is devoid of logic if not downright absurd. Better “integration” with other nations need not be through a calendar shift; in fact it is difficult to understand how such integration will drastically be improved by such change in schedule.

The academic calendar shift will not address the real root causes why UP and Philippine education in general are in a harried state. This is what needs to be addressed by UP and CHED.

The railroading of the change in academic calendar, in fact, further exposes the real face of UP and Philippine education: colonial, commercialized and fascist.

UP and the education sector would be better off finding solutions to the sad state of the country’s education system and genuinely addressing the long-standing problems of Philippine education. Instead of a shift in academic calendar, we need a shift in orientation — towards a nationalist, scientific and mass-oriented type of education.

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