There’s been a lot of talks on the proposed academic calendar shift. However, there has not been any formal announcement regarding next school year’s schedule. Are we still starting classes in June, or are we going to start in September? If we do start in September, is there going to be another batch of summer classes? Hasn’t it gotten too late for this sudden change, given that we only have a couple of weeks left before summer? These questions, along with many more, have been boggling both professors’ and students’ minds. I, for one, feel that the University should prepare well and announce at lest a year beforehand, so students can plan their academic and possibly summer work schedule if a transition is indeed occurring. But more than that, over and over again, I keep on thinking about why an academic calendar shift is even necessary. They say that weather is a factor, but haven’t the monstrous typhoons that caused prolonged class suspensions (e.g. Yolanda, Sendong, Ondoy) come AFTER October? How is the shift going to make a difference if it doesn’t even avoid this time period? Others argue that the shift comes so that Filipinos will be “globally competitive”. However, as we all know, not everyone can and will work abroad. Some people say, the academic calendar shift has been brought to the table for students to have foreign exchange opportunities. Sadly, by everyone can afford to go on exchange. More importantly, why is there a need for UP to change its schedule to cater to foreign students? Isn’t its first priority catering to Filipino students? To me, the academic calendar shift is another manifestation colonial mentality. Just because it’s a foreign practice, does it mean that it’s the best for us? Definitely not.
Just how Stiglitz talks about the IMF’s refusal to consider the country’s context before implementing policies they came up with in their Washington DC office, I believe that our local context, in relation to the academic calendar shift, has not been examined enough and properly. We need statistical proof- projections, econometric analyses, and the like to be able to accurately weigh the benefits and costs of this decision. These figures then need to be released to the entire UP community, so everyone can have an informed stand and make a rational decision. As Economists, I believe that it is not enough to rely on votes that are simply based on people’s opinions. It is also not enough to rely on other countries’ experiences and expect that our decision will yield the same results. All in all, the decision to move the academic calendar must come with more evidence as to why its benefits exceed its costs, and with more transparency.