Friday, 7 February 2014



By Katleah Ulrike

"The Univeristy of the Philippines is hereby declared as the National University..."
-UP charter of 2008

"In service of youth, country, and god..."
- based on the University of the East vision and mission statement

It was months ago when the issue on moving the school calendar from June to August hath been revived and discussed in social media sites as well as campus papers, particularly those of the big 4 schools situated around the metro.

However, two of the big 4 schools, namely: the University of the Philippines (UP) and the Ateneo de Manila University (AdMU) had approved changing its school calendar as what this writer had stated. However, as for the University of the Philippines, most of its campuses, minus the main campus at Diliman had agreed with the latter chose to dissent because of certain disagreements.

And with most of the comments coming from social media sites and online newspapers all but favorable to the idea of just changing the calendar had simply come from a variety of reasons such as typhoon seasons that comes on June or July, international standards especially using ASEAN integration as its starting pojnt, or even plain and simple want of having foreigners studying in a school calendar based on what being stated, treating the latter merely as an investor than as a scholar. They even cited ASEAN integration not knowing that last 2010 the Philippines has 1/4 or 25% of children studying college compared to Singapore with its 71% or Malaysia with its 40.2%. Yes, those countries are part of ASEAN that is, "NeoKlim" (Neocolonial and imperialist dominated, particularly those of the west), and with that kind of tendency may say that the "just" moving of school year, be it may in August or September shows the idea of having foreigners further gain access to education in the Philippines, expecting bigger profits and alibis such as "development" of existing colleges, buildings, and the like.

But, as for this writer rather say that she, like those who had opposed Tuition and Other Fee Increases, and Student repressions, is also against the sudden changing of the  the school calendar whether it is for UP, ADMU, DLSU or even UE, FEU and SSC-R. For the University of the Philippines, on the first place, is a National University that caters first and foremost to the Filipino people. Foreigners may afford to study and enjoy under the present school calendar, but again It should had prioritize first the Filipino people in equipping knowledge in pursuit of genuine national development.
So are the not quite affected schools that must do the same in opposing, knowing that there are possible consequences affecting the vast majority of students, particularly those of working class and lower petitbourgeois backgrounds paying skyrocketing tuition and other fees, and sudden climate changes that affect not just health and well being of students but also those of maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE); else, no wonder that one after another administrator and a bunch of apologetics will certainly agree in a sudden join into the neoliberal flow, of commercialism guised as development, of globalization guised as internationalism, anything that benefits the ruling class aggravates the problems of the vast majority whose children wanted to study in pursuit of a better, excellent life. That changing the calendar can "pave way" to development in the education sector "simply because had to cope with international standards!"

But come to think of this, in a climate that just consist of wet and dry, and with sudden changing seasons particularly those of rain and storm in a possible given month, the just idea of changing the calendar seemed likely concluding to be a mixed reaction:

That one may consider it ideally to have the calendar and even some policies change in accordance to international standards all because of having Philippine education getting coped with the modern times, with education-based tourism and a just influx of dollar-carrying foreigners willing to study in the Philippines; yes, it seemed to be quite nice that education at first as fast becoming an investment for educational institutions turned corporations with all of its amenities trying hard to be improved for goddamn sake! With state universities controlled by technocrats "care less" about having budget cuts due to education-based tourism made by dollar-carrying investors, ehem, students. 

But, on the other hand, which is based on facts, it may deem disagreeable simply because of today's changing climates, that torrential rains also encompass those of "ber" months and tremendous heat  during summer; as well as not prioritizing important ones particularly those of contested tuition increases and rehabilitation and improvement of affected schools, particularly those battered by supertyphoon Yolanda last 2013.
Speaking of  the supertyphoons, most were happened on the first four months of the proposed school calendar. Tropical storm Ondoy and Pepeng brought devastation last September 23, 2010 while Typhoon Sendong had devastated parts of Visayas and Mindanao last December 2011 so was Pablo  last November 2012. The effects of climate change had made typhoons happen in months, ironically speaking as the first few quarters of the "new" school year.

Furthermore as what Kabataan Party's Terry Ridon saidth:

“The August-May calendar is so incongruent with the climate, culture, and orientation of our education system that it poses dire ramifications to our students and faculty..." 

So is Fromer UP Student Regent Cleve Arguelles stated in Pinoy Weekly (partly translated from Filipino), in regards to opposing the said attempt:

First, having low access of poor people in college, that the majority had come from those of farmers, existing policies tormented them in allocating money for paying tuition and other expenses. The current start of the school calendar fells on the season where farmers had to harvest their crops. If the government had no plans to make education affordable, then where do they want to fetch these children from their families?

Second, the current school calendar is ideal in the country’s weather cycle. It should not be opposed because it is difficult for students to study during summer (march-may). And although the university who had advocated the said change has air-conditioned classrooms, isn't it that it also increases tuition due to gigantic growth in energy consumption? In a country that has highest amount of energy consumption in the world, and a government that has no plan to deal about the issue, then there is no room for such impractical proposals.

Third, it rather strengthens the present description of education system in the country, that is based on the needs of the world market, of creating more cheap labor, serving the interest and needs of the foreigners and the few who had both access and benefit.

Quite awkward to think that in a country that has less priorities on Education and more into Debt Servicing, had afford to speak about "international standards" and other "neoliberal" stuff in regards to Education. If one has to push the idea of having a global university, then how come the Philippines public spending per GDP ratio those of 2.5% while Thailand has 4.5 and Vietnam has 5.3%? Those countries had valued education in pursuit of National Development prior to the idea of ASEAN integration. The Philippines, with its neoliberal nature rather do a laissez faire in most of its policies, leaving anything to the profit-oriented private sector while seeking from IMF-WB loans.

And come to think of this, since UP had approved changing the calendar in most of its campuses, and at the same time time rehabilitating the Yolanda-wrecked buildings at Tacloban for let's just say two to three years, with possibly increasing fees with existing controversial rules that made Kristel Tejada committed suicide, then what the heck are those technocrats guised as educators doing? Wrecking, diluting certain existing policies and at the same time profiteering from the mess being occurred?
How about other State and Private Colleges and Universities, will they just simply join the neoliberal flow knowing that education-tourism has become the possible fast-growing trend in the Philippines? In UE for example, Iranian students, particularly those of Dentistry has to pay dollars just like its Filipino counterparts paying fees that are gone increasing yearly. This writer, like any other critic may like to think that the trend is all but a two-way road that consists of increasing profits and neglecting its priorities.

No wonder that right is what the progressive and patriotic organizations in UP, as well as other colleges and universities, that “in desiring to internationalize and be a global university, we are becoming less and less nationally and locally relevant” that made them turn their backs on its main priorities in the University- of serving the Filipino people and prioritizing National Development. 

That's all for now.  Expect protests to come because of possible exorbitant fees because of this hell of a kind trend!