Friday, June 20, 2008

Why It is Stupid to Open Classes in September

Here in the Philippines, classes start in June and end in March as a rule. The students enjoy a long summer break from April to May. Since the rainy season officially starts in June, students are always greeted with typhoons, monsoon rains, and flash flooding. This has made government officials propose moving the opening of classes from June to September like other countries, particularly the USA. These people believe that moving the opening of classes will address the problem of having to suspend classes because of typhoons and flash floods.

Well, as a teacher, I think this idea is crap. In the first place, we have rains and typhoons in September as well. And with the global warming, the weather has become more unpredictable. Plus, if we always think of the weather, we will never be able to get anything done at all. Now, since we are talking of the weather, don't these officials see how difficult it is to study during summertime in the Philippines? The heat will overwhelm the students. Many schools do not have airconditioning, especially the very overcrowded public schools.

What really galls me is the usual colonial thinking of Filipinos that since classes in the US open in September, then it must be the better option. Filipinos forget the fact that most countries that open their classes in September have four seasons. April and May for them are the months for spring. Springtime is quite cool and a better season than winter. However, June, July and August are the summer months so they are also doing what we Filipinos are doing all along. They also have a long summer break just like us. And our stupid government officials want to take away summer break from our Filipino students? How very nice and sensitive of them to do that!

Just imagine this. If we follow the stupid September opening, the students won't enjoy an exciting long vacation. Why do I say so? Well, their vacation will start in July when rains are here already. They won't be able to enjoy the beach or to be out with friends that much because it will be raining almost every day. Going to the mountains may prove hazardous with the possible landslides during the rainy season. So, these kids will endure the scorching summer heat in school just to have a vacation at home for two months. Wow, talk about fun!

We should not also forget that in some provinces, poor farmers need their children to plant crops during summertime. It is just the way they do it to avoid paying additional labor. Cutting costs will always be a way of life for poor Filipinos.

Hence, before our stupid government officials propose anything that is patterned after a successful nation, they should do their homework first. The conditions in the Philippines are not the same as the conditions in the US and other first world countries having the four seasons.

Now, may I propose something? I would like to see our government officials in the executive, the judiciary, and the legislative bodies do at least one week of community service by teaching in overcrowded public schools. That way, they will understand what is really happening in Philippine schools instead of proposing stupid ideas that won't do us any good.