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Paz, Miqaella Concept Paper + Position Paper (Initial Draft)

The Absurdity of the Rationale Behind the Issue of the Academic


Calendar Shift

The shifting of the academic calendar on some of the universities here in the Philippines is
caused primordially by the ASEAN Integration 2015 which envisions a more politically and
socio-economically innovated and refined ASEAN which is believed to be attained mainly
through the process of internationalization of each of its member states. For the Philippines
to effectively contribute and catch up as a member of the ASEAN towards this respective
goal that is expected to be achieved by 2015, the alignment of the academic calendar with
ASEAN and the international community is now seen to be as the most direct and concrete
solution towards a more globally competitive Philippines. It implies that moving the
academic calendar from June-March to August-May might assist in the internationalization
of academic communities. However, as efficient and as concrete this solution that is
directed towards our countrys internationalization may sound, it brought about strong
oppositions and arguments from students, faculties and the various academic staffs of the
different universities involved thus creating a rather stimulating and yet so controversial
issue currently being at hand.

The University of the Philippines meanwhile is being purported to as the most apparent
key element in this issue being the only national university in the country. Since the main
purpose of this shift is centered upon the purpose of internationalization in some of the
universities in the country, President of the UP System Dr. Alfredo Pascual emphasized UPs
mandate to serve as a regional and global university. Referring to UPs charter of 2008, UP
is the only mandated national university thus highly exemplifies to be a regional and global
university. It is undeniably important therefore to note the gravity of UPs role regarding
this matter.

For an integrative discussion on the issue, it is enticing to know the concept of an academic
calendar. As noted by the UP Diliman University Registrar, Dr. Evangeline Amor, an
academic calendar provides a schedule that guides the students and the faculty in their
performances and due processes which also includes several meetings, activities and other
agenda concerning the university. This clearly magnifies the significance of an academic
calendar towards an academic community because it mainly directs the students and the
faculty towards an aimed goal for a better and well facilitated university. Therefore, seeing
this kind of importance towards the role of an academic calendar, it is obligatory to know
the answer to the question, What makes a good academic calendar? According to former
UPD Chancellor Dr. Caesar Saloma, this is the real question to be engaged in for this
question can also help in determining and coming up with an appropriate decision on the
said calendar shift. Answering his own inquiry, Saloma came up with an image of a good
academic calendar as a calendar that productively facilitates the universitys course
contents by them being taught faithfully and integratively towards students. Following this
line of thought, a question of What makes a good academic calendar for the students?
follows.

Interestingly, the complexity of the language-game being played by the issue is very much
evident in the form of the term internationalization. As what can be observed,
internationalization has become an ultimately used word in the discussion of the
academic calendar shift. As what was previously discussed, this has been so for the reason
that this is the sole cause of why the shift is almost happening. Other than that, the word is
just so beautiful in a sense that it is so strategically dressed up. Most people hearing this
word will usually create in their minds a picture of its most positive context as if its very
term was a saint and that it is such a good thing with it being almost immediately equated
with profound progress that almost always contain a tone of assurance. In fact, it was such
a good term that it made an awfully good design on that lone argument supporting the
calendar shift. Moreover, the ambiguity and complexity of the term itself was suffice
enough to fund the very foundation of their argument which made it convincing to the
readers and listeners. The term is beautified for it to be an effective instrument of
persuasion. With all these, it appears that the term internationalization poses such a big
deal that it made such an appealing argument enough to have people agree with the
calendar shift.

But internationalization simply is just another economic term referring to a process of
increasing the availability of a certain commodity in the international market. So what
made the term so special then? In the case of the said shift, the commodity being pertained
to here is education. What the shift is doing now with regards to internationalization is
molding the Philippines educational curriculum so that the availability of both of our local
students abroad and the availability of foreign students present in our country will
strengthen, thus the market between our local students and foreign students will manifest
stronger mobility. Obviously putting it by this, the concept extracted from the term
internationalization became an all good concept.

The ideas surrounding this all good concept of internationalization is dressed up too much
that it initiates doubt unto cryptic minds. Moreover, this all good concept presents an
irritatingly indirect lieu from a certain glitch thereby bringing out further complexities in
the issue through smart questionings by the opposition when frankly, internationalization
speaks of only two things elites and money. In summary, the whole fuss roots from
capitalism.
It is an undeniable fact that the benefits of this internationalization brought about by the
change in the academic calendar are oligarchic. This claim is embedded within the very
idea of student-faculty mobility between the local and foreign academe. It can be observed
how the focus of internationalization through the shift is concentrated among students and
members of faculty who can actually afford to be mobile and go out of the country. Let us
see the costs shall we? Even with a scholarship program offered by a university, there are
still many things that one has to consider when applying to be an exchange student. The
cost of the required language classes to take is one. The cost of transportation fees and
other vital human needs as you work on your visa and travel from school to home. And of
course there is the workload of working on your passport especially if you do not have one
yet.
These elites that had been previously brought up constitute 51% of the Filipino population
as estimated by the Social Weather Station (SWS). This must be a good thing then since this
implies that the countrys internationalization shall be easily facilitated given the great
number of Filipinos who can be involved in the process. With this majority, it can be
strongly assumed that there will be a smooth sailing flow of student-faculty exchanges as
there will be an increased outflow of our local students going abroad for academic
purposes and in return, a proportionate increase in the inflow of foreign students and
faculty in our country as well.
Through these, it is enticing to note the gravity of the role of Filipino elites in fueling the
already progressing improvements of the countrys global competitiveness as a whole that
is also due to their increasing numberparticularly in UP Diliman.
As of 2011, a great number of undergraduate students in UP Diliman are under the
millionaire bracket or what is namely categorized as Bracket A with a numerical data of
900++ (excluding the freshmen who are enrolled after June 3 of that year) as estimated by
the Office of the President. In the case of the freshies, there had been an estimated number
of 900 qualified freshmen students who are under the said bracket, composing the majority
of the 1,750 qualified freshmen. Currently, there has been no recorded statistics on the
matter although the administration had observed that the number of students under the
millionaire bracket is continually increasing through the years. Given this increasing
number of elites in UPs flagship campus, a change in the academic calendar to facilitate
this internationalization of the university specifically just might be a practically brilliant
idea after all since majority of our resources in the university can be of use! A great number
of competent students in UPD have all the means of applying for an exchange program
financially and skillfully speaking thus contributing greatly to the internationalization of
the university.
So what now will the other 49% do with the shift now supposing it pushes through? How
about the UPD students contained in the lower brackets? What will these people living in
the verge of and below the poverty threshold get from this internationalization that had
been so fervently promised by the change in our academic calendar? Obviously, it seems
that the 51% is already representing the country regarding this matter while ignoring the
other part of the whole.
Living below the poverty threshold meant not having at least Php 5,458 to meet basic food
needs monthly still excluding from it non-food expenses. The amount in itself cannot even
suffice a single students tuition even in a state university like UP. 49% of Filipinos wont
even step one foot in deciding on sending their children to college so what more in
pursuing a goal of being an exchange student to hope for a better career path abroad. But
thats the thing! These people do not see the necessity of sending their children abroad at
all and they also seem to not squeeze out any sense from it. Why would they want to do
that when the most attainable work is found here in the country? The Philippines is an
agricultural country where farming is a rather popular occupation. In a developing country
like ours, people, especially those living below the poverty line, have an instilled
pragmatism that automatically forms in them the gravity of their priority towards work
compared to education. The tendency is to make the children stop studying and let them
work because only in that way will they be of use to the family at least in their view. At
the end of the day, these people will only land on being the ultimate source of cheap human
labor in the country.
The whole idea of internationalization is clearly advocated fully towards the elite and this
effectively cancels 49% of Filipinos out of the big picture specifically along with the
thousands of UPD students contained in the lower brackets. It is ironic to present this case
considering the dubbed label being put on the foreheads of every UP student Iskolar ng
Bayan, Iskolar para sa Bayan. Although, there is something to be said about
internationalization and its possible role in strengthening nationalism in the country as
whole thus catering to the justice of being an Iskolar para sa Bayan. To quote from UP
System President Pascual:
Well learn from the successes of others. With the Filipinos learning, increasing
and developing intelligence through partnerships globally, we can showcase the
best UP can offer to the world. We can show to the world what Filipino talent can do.
It is global orientation without losing sight of its important role in the country.
Perhaps through this strengthening of ties with foreign countries through a more
accommodating student-faculty mobility, there can be a high probability of making the
Philippines utmostly unique in a way that many countries would not contain second
thoughts in investing to a country like ours because of those Filipino talents that are adored
by globally. The statement made by President Pascual is so patriotic and presented with
such nobility but is it? Firstly, is it true what he said that we can learn from the successes
of these others? By we, I assume that he is trying to pertain to the Filipino nation. But is
that really the case? Or was it more like the elites will learn from the successes of others?
Or was it more more like the elites will learn from the successes of others so that they can
learn easy how-tos on how to have wider opportunities and make more money? I believe
that the statement was really more line of the latter two. And then of course theres the
thing about using our talents outside for the best of our country. Is this always the case? Or
better yet, does this happen in a very natural basis and manner to us Filipinos? Can you
name at least 10 people who will go out of the country without being influenced at all by
greed so as to remain intact on his goal to develop himself fruitfully and to serve his
country? It is the capitalistic nature of us Filipinos that averts us away from the noble goals.
It is money that can influence every decision we make by choosing the wrong from the
right mainly because the wrong spits out wealth and the right spits none but righteousness.
It is attention on the income and ignorance to the country. A proof can be seen in the
ignorance of the fact that with the shift of the academic calendar, it can be said that 49%
Filipinos will not be able to pay tuition since the months of April-May and October-
November are the harvesting seasons thus this is also the time income comes in for the
farmers. With the shift, farmers would not be able to pay tuition efficiently. This big
consideration from the members of the 49% had been completely ignored especially by the
elites and this is rooted from the way they looked into the issue with a capitalistic ideology.
The shift can increase opportunities abroad. But only to those who can cease it.
Internationalization has nothing to do with the development of our nation as a whole. But,
it has a whole lot of thing to do with the elites, with the must haves, with the powerful.
These elites do not benefit their people. They benefit other elites.
The totality of the calendar shift is very concentrated in a marketing view with education as
a main commodity, the prime movers being the elites and the ASEAN integration 2015 as
the moving concept. The Philippines being in line with the ASEAN community is a huge
factor for us to catch up with the unified integration in 2015 for the Philippines to
progressively achieve higher and stronger investments within the ASEAN community so as
to lead to a dramatic economic boost through our GDP (Gross Domestic Product). With the
capitalistic minds of the key officials concerned, they started seeking solutions. And one
solution that they saw was changing the realm of education. It was a wise idea and I fully
agree to it. What actually made it wrong was the way they dealt with the solution. The
elites concerned looked at this particular solution in a, once again, capitalistic manner.
They thought of education as a commodity to be imported and exported. They created a
market of it along with the goal of like any other merchant to gain profit in the form of a
higher GDP.
By registering these points, it can be said that the decision made in pursuing with the shift
is a big fog of capitalistic intentions and underneath it, a city of complex issues. Majority of
the supporters of the shift were so hyped with the earnings internationalization will
produce that they immediately gave in to the whim of the said proposal. There are still
many complexities in the shift that should still be taken into consideration by not just
simple considering or reconsidering it but taking it in a very logical and processed manner
complete with an integrative and collective consultations from the different sectors of the
society especially the students. Not only that, public discussions should also be engaged
at.
In line with these public discussions, perhaps a more elaborate discussion on the matter by
not simply focusing on the economic side of the issue would benefit because that would
only trigger the capitalistic gland of each and every human being present in the discussions
and thus would only further scatter the fog. A more inward-looking discussion perhaps on
internationalization and what it really means could be of a very significant use.
In the end, maybe its not about internationalization. Maybe this whole thing is all about
being globally competitive being focused on what we have and working on what we have
and be progressively excellent on it. Maybe the time has come to stop having an outward-
looking perspective and to start having an inward-looking one. We pursue with the shift
because we want our country to be internationalized. But how can we be internationalized
if we are not yet meeting the international standards? As said by Dr. De Dios of the School
of Economics, we should become good first and then if we achieve that, only then we will
achieve an international character and not the other way around. The country must work
for it by heightening our research outputs and the turnout of post-graduate degrees and
also by recruiting the best faculty. To quote from Political Science Professor Felipe
Miranda, If you want to be world-class, you must first be world-class.
This is not an easy matter. This is no black-and-white situation. The dumbing down of the
process of decision-making regarding this matter is too absurd and should not be tolerated.
A clear and collective consensus must be arrived at appropriately.












BIBLIOGRAPHY
Bacani, Louis. "No Improvement in Lives of Poor Filipinos." Philstar.com. N.p., 23 Apr. 2013. Web. 15
Mar. 2014. <http://www.philstar.com/business/2013/04/23/933989/no-improvement-lives-
poor-filipinos>.

Sabillo, Kristine. "UP Diliman Professors Resist Academic Calendar Shift." Inquirer News. N.p., 24
Feb. 2014. Web. 15 Mar. 2014. <http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/580267/up-diliman-professors-
resist-academic-calendar-shift>.

Tucay, Marjohara, and Keith Richard Mariano. "Half of UPD Freshies under 'millionaire
Bracket'" Philippine Collegian. N.p., 14 June 2011. Web. 15 Mar. 2014.
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"ASEAN Economic Community." ASEAN Economic Community. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Mar. 2014.
<http://www.asean.org/communities/asean-economic-community>.

Saloma, Caesar, Alfredo Pascual, Evangeline Amor, Bernadette Abrera, Michael Tan, Grace Dalisay,
Laura David, Emmanuel De Dios, Erniel Barrios, Ramon Guillermo, Enrico Nera, and Victor Paz. A
Forum on the Philippine Academic Calendar. 10 Feb. 2014.