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BLIND SPOT: June or August?

It’s always been June. As a child, I found it weird to find out that school in the United States start in September. It’s got to be June. Isn’t that weird? Or maybe we’re the one that’s weird. Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand, follow the September-to-May school calendar. “The academic year in Japan starts in April and ends in March. South Korea’s academic year begins in March and ends in February.” (Wait, wait a minute. Japanese and South Korean students don’t get a two month school break? They practically go to school almost all year? Okay, to each his own.) China’s school calendar also starts in September and ends in June. “In Australia, the school year begins in January and ends in December.” (Now, this makes more sense. After all, a year starts on January and ends on December. Why bother starting in the middle of the year. Besides, this would prevent any confusion between a school year and an actual year. But just like the Japanese and South Koreans, don’t Aussies want to have a school break?) “In some European countries, the school year starts in the first week of September. In Nordic countries like Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Norway and Iceland, it generally starts between mid- to end-August. In Southern European countries like Greece, Portugal and Turkey, the school calendar starts during the second half of September.” ( ) Wait, no other nation mentioned start their classes on June. How come? According to sources, “this academic calendar was adopted to coincide with the country’s two seasons—rainy (from June to November) and dry (from December to May).” Really? So does that mean summer ends on May and rains start on June? Yes, although traditionally, Filipinos consider April and May as summer months, doesn’t the heat start on March and continue through June. Furthermore, in where I am in the Philippines, it’s summer hot most of the year; except for some cold spells from December to February; although it still gets hot at some points on these months. Even during typhoons, it would get cold during the rainy and windy calamity, and the scorching heat would be immediately back before the flood waters subside. It’s summer hot almost all year round. So, what coincidence are you talking about? But on the other hand, our forefathers decided on this schedule before the advent of climate change. Maybe weather patterns were different then. According to history, during the Japanese occupation, classes were reopened on June 1942. No other mention was made in historical references about school calendars then. So, I guess, Philippine educational system stuck with the schedule implemented by the Japanese. ( However, some four years ago , prominent universities and state academic institutions have started to start their school year on August. “For Ateneo de Manila University, the calendar shift is the first step in the school’s “internationalization initiatives,” “More and more, there’s a need to prepare our students for an increasingly interconnected world … to try to develop global outlook and competencies,” ( ) Yes, it’s going to synchronize our schedules with most of the world; but would change in schedule improve competencies? In case you’re not aware, seriously, Sen. Cheese Escudero, chair of the Senate education committee, filed Senate Bill 1432, seeking to mandate that all public and private schools start their school year on the second Monday of August but not later than the second Monday of September. “He said the synchronization of the academic calendar will assist in research activities between local and international universities and will help increase student participation in exchange programs.” ( “Rizal Rep. Michael John Duavit also filed a similar bill proposing that the opening of classes in all schools in the country be synchronized beginning 2018.“ ( This was last year. This year, “Pampanga Rep. Aurelio Gonzales Jr. has proposed the mandatory shift of the academic calendar of all public and private schools and academic institutions beginning August”. “He said his proposal promotes educational opportunities for Filipino students to study abroad by having local schools partner with foreign schools in exchange programs eventually leading to more employment opportunities for students abroad.” “Lastly, by moving the calendar away from June to August, it will result in less cancellation of classes due to heavy rains that occur during this period, protecting students from unnecessary harm that may occur from the typhoon season, ” he said.” ( ) I would have to disagree on this one. Our bulk of typhoons come on the fourth quarter of the year; so, it’s just going to be the same. Actually, the international alignment rationale makes some sense. Few Filipinos probably are aware that the whole K to 12 curriculum implementation is actually a part of the ASEAN integration (which many Filipinos I suppose, are not also aware of) which should have gone full blast in 2015. So, if the Philippines is really serious with the ASEAN integration, and with K to 12 to parallel with educational system of most nations, it would be logical to follow it up with the shift of class opening to August. Actually, Thailand had done just that. They have shifted class opening from May to September to align with international schedules. But if they implement that, Bicolano pupils’ and students’ first agenda on the first week of school would be to prepare for the competitions on the fiesta on the following month. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” Proverbs 9:10

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