Senator Sherwin Gatchalian favored localized academic break or suspension of classes in calamity-hit areas over Luzon-wide or nationwide academic freeze.
Gatchalian, chairperson of the Senate committee on basic education, said the class suspension “should be left to LGUs or the academic institutions based on their assessment of the calamities’ impact on their constituencies.”
The senator was concerned that prolonged academic breaks could lead to increased learning losses, inequalities, and exposure to violence, child labor, and teenage pregnancy.
Gatchalian noted that those issues were observed after the onslaught of Typhoon Yolanda in 2013.
“That is why, despite all the colossal challenges, we strive to make education continue. I do not see how an academic freeze will help in our aspiration to continue education and mitigate risks associated with prolonged school closures,” he said.
In a television interview, CHED chairperson Prospero De Vera III noted that CHED could not make a single decision on the suspension of classes.
Gatchalian supports LGU-declared academic break
“No to both, especially for the nationwide academic break because the impact of the typhoon and the disasters are different across different parts of the country,” he said in an interview on CNN-Philippines.
“Number two, no also to the Luzon-wide (break) because the universities are already deciding on it,” he added.
For De Vera, the local government and the school administration should decide whether to implement a break depending on their area’s situation.
“For schools that are severely affected, the commission will help these schools. And if the assistance is in terms of academic break, then the commission will decide on appropriate time on what is the appropriate academic break for individual universities,” he added.
Several universities in the country, including the University of Santo Tomas, the Polytechnic University of the Philippines, Ateneo de Manila University, and De La Salle University, had imposed an academic break. This was to give students and educators time to recover or help in the typhoon victims’ relief operations.