Concerned UP professors campaign against academic calendar change as UP Diliman admin holds faculty referendum

N.B. – This press release was distributed during a press conference this morning (February 24) at Vinzons Hall, UP Diliman. Please feel free to share. Thank you.

PRESS RELEASE
February 24, 2014

Concerned faculty members of the University of the Philippines (UP) wore their academic costume called “UP Sablay” on Monday (February 24) to register their dissent in the administration’s decision to change the academic calendar.

It may be recalled that the Board of Regents decided last February 6 to implement a shift in the academic calendar from June-March to August-May in all constituent units except UP Diliman (UPD).

However, the UPD administration decided to push through with a faculty referendum from Monday to Wednesday (February 24 to 26) despite the initial decision of the UPD University Council (composed of assistant, associate and full professors) to vote against the shift in the academic calendar.

In a statement, the Congress of Teachers and Educators for Nationalism and Democracy called on UP professors to retain the current academic calendar. “The synchronization of our calendar with our Asian partners in higher education and the world does not guarantee the democratization of access to UP Diliman especially among the poor but deserving students…(T)he Administration has never given any sufficient and compelling reasons why we should rush the synchronization of our calendar with our partner universities. But as faculty we have all the reasons to demand that our University should focus rather on demanding greater state subsidy, equitable admission policy, and creating a truly nurturing environment and providing support facilities.”

In an open letter to the Commission on Higher Education, Dr. Doracie Nantes, a former UP professor who now teaches at Australia National University (ANU), said that “The Philippines is still an agricultural country with 60-80 percent of communities (depending on the level of economic development in each respective region) dependent on agriculture and fishery livelihood systems.” Given this, she asked, “How do we account for the negative implications of this change in academic calendar in relation to the availability of disposable income among farming and fishing families who like any other families in our country would like to send their young members to college so they can get better chances of being employed in less-taxing and better compensated jobs?”

Nantes also added that “Internationalization does not mean adjusting our class opening schedule to schools and universities in other countries so that the Filipino students will not have to wait several months to enrol in other universities abroad, or for the foreign students to enrol in our universities.” She also raised the following questions: “(A)re our schools for Filipinos or are we saying here that they are built to serve the educational needs of foreign students? Is the Philippine education system for all young members of the Philippine Society all over the country and not just for the few members of the more economically well-off members of the Filipino society – who are the only ones who can afford to send their children to the USA or Australia or Europe? May I ask whose interests are we serving here? Changing the academic calendar of the country should take these things into account.”

During the press conference of concerned UPD faculty members on Monday (February 24), 9:00 a.m. at Vinzons Hall in UP Diliman, those who expressed opposition to change the academic calendar were Dr. Emmanuel De Dios (UP School of Economics), Dr. Eduardo Tadem (Asian Center), Dr. Victor Paz (Archaeological Studies Program), Dr. Ramon Guillermo (College of Arts and Letters), Dr. Gerry Lanuza (College of Social Science and Philosophy) and Prof. Marivic Raquiza (National Center for Public Administration and Governance). Student Regent Krista Melgarejo also attended the press conference.

The nature of opposition is both procedural and political, the concerned faculty members stressed. At the forum held at the UPD National Institute of Physics last February 10, it was argued that there are clear disadvantages in changing the academic calendar to suit mainly Western standards, a practice that was done in 1963 but dropped two years later.

The concerned UP faculty members stressed that their objective is not just for UPD to have its own calendar but also for other constituent units to rethink their decision. “The decision to change UP’s academic calendar reflects the kind of governance the UP System currently has. The administration accepted at face value what the CU administrators the favorable decision submitted to them despite the lack of consultations and indepth discussions prior to making the decision.”

For verification and more details, please contact Prof. Danilo Arao, Department of Journalism, at (0908) 866-2726.

(end)

Danilo A. Arao
Assistant Professor, Department of Journalism
College of Mass Communication Plaridel Hall
University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman, Q.C. 1101
Telephone: (+632) 920-6852, 981-8500 loc. 2672
Fax: (+632) 920-6852
Mobile Phone: (+63908) 866-ARAO
Email: danilo.arao@up.edu.ph
Blog: http://risingsun.dannyarao.com

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