SCHOOL CALENDAR. House Committee on Basic Education and Culture chairperson Rep. Roman Romulo says the Department of Education (DepEd) must study the proposed return to the old academic calendar when school breaks run from April to May, in a phone patch interview during the Laging Handa public briefing on Wednesday (April 26, 2023). Romulo said several factors must be considered, particularly the existing challenges to schools and learners during rainy season. (Screengrab)

MANILA – The House Committee on Basic Education and Culture on Wednesday agreed on the proposed merging of subjects in the Kinder to Grade 3 (K-3) curriculum, saying it may result in exponential learning growth of learners.

In the Laging Handa public briefing, House Committee on Basic Education and Culture chairperson Rep. Roman Romulo said this will mean more time and opportunity to focus on “functional literacy.”

Agree po ako fully doon sa bagong [proposal], alam niyo po matagal na po naming sinasabi, pagdating sa Grades 1 to 3, kailangan nating bawasan ang subject. Kailangan pong mag-focus tayo sa functional literacy at sa reading, reading, reading, at sa mathematics (I fully agree with the new proposal, you know, we have been saying that for so long that when it comes to Grades 1 to 3, we need to reduce the subjects. We need to focus on functional literacy and reading, reading, reading, and mathematics),” he said.

The Department of Education (DepEd) earlier proposed a draft intending to merge Araling Panlipunan (social studies) and the Music, Arts, Physical Education and Health (MAPEH) which shall be called Sibika, Kultura, Kasaysayan at Kagalingang Pangkatawan (SIKaP).

The DepEd said the integration hopes to provide learners and teachers “ample time to strengthen functional literacy,” as well as to help learners develop personal and cultural consciousness.

For Romulo, such strategy shall be beneficial in addressing challenges among learners particularly in reading comprehension.

Kasi kailangan talaga ‘yung ating mga mag-aaral ay matutukan natin ang reading comprehension at mathematics at siyempre ‘yung pakikitungo nang tama sa ibang tao, kasama po talaga ‘yan (Because we truly need to help our learners focus on reading comprehension and mathematics, and of course, their proper interaction with others, that’s included),” he added.

School calendar

Meanwhile, the legislator underscored the need for the DepEd to carefully assess the proposed reverting to the original school calendar due to extreme heat.

Talagang napakainit po. Hindi naman natin made-deny ‘yun. Kaya talagang may discomfort sa pagpasok, pero ‘wag din nating kalimutan na pagka tag-ulan naman ay mayroon ding kaakibat na challenges ‘yan (It’s indeed hot, we can’t deny that. That’s why there’s discomfort in attending classes but we should not also forget the rainy season has its own challenges),” Romulo said.

Kapag may baha, kapag malakas ang ulan, may bagyo, marami ring nagkakasakit sa mga panahon na ‘yun (If there’s flooding, if there’s heavy rain, a storm, many are also getting sick during that season),” he said.

He added that if the school break shall be reverted to April and May, significant considerations must be made.

Romulo said the DepEd must consider important factors, such as the school’s resilience to typhoons and flooding, safety and health of learners, continuity of learning activities amid rainy season, and the matching of school calendars with higher education institutions (HEIs).

He said the department must coordinate with the Commission on Higher Education since some HEIs have already shifted its academic calendars.

The DepEd has assured the public it is already studying the setup that will be ideal for the learning environment.

DepEd spokesperson Michael Poa also insisted that school heads have the discretion to suspend in-person classes and shift to alternative delivery modes (ADMs).

The DepEd, however, said the proposed acquisition of air conditioners for each classroom in all public schools is not feasible considering the budget restrictions of the education sector. (PNA)