BAGUIO Congressman Mark Go has expressed full support for an academic break in Baguio City in accordance with the growing clamor and demand for the break among the city’s universities, even as some have already provided respite.
Congressman Mark Go, Mayor Benjie Magalong, Councilors Levy Orcales and Vladimir Cayabas, heads of schools, student councils’ representatives, and Commission on Higher Education Cordillera (CHED-CAR) officials convened to discuss concerns as the basis for the students’ request for an academic break.
At least five Baguio and Benguet universities already declared their academic breaks in the wake of the dialogue.
Pines City Colleges last Friday implemented its academic break from November 11 to 17.
On Thursday, Nov. 4, the Benguet State University (BSU) declared a six-day academic break from Nov. 8 to 13 “to help in any way possible anyone challenged in coping with the new learning whether as a student or as a teacher.”
“These challenges of this unprecedented time are lodged with humanity and not with a single or a group of persons. Let us help one another,” its university memo read.
During the break, no online classes will be conducted and all deadlines set during the week are automatically rescheduled for the following week.
PCC and BSU are the sixth and seventh universities in Baguio to implement an academic break after the University of the Cordilleras, Saint Louis University, University of Baguio, and the University of the Philippines Baguio likewise agreed to impose an academic break.
Go expressed full support for a break, but urged that such breaks be scheduled by the city’s various higher education institutions in coordination with both teachers and students in consideration of school programs, curriculum, and other factors that may affect scheduling.
As such, Go pushed for the city’s universities to take the first two weeks of November as planning and scheduling for another academic break.
Currently, the University of the Philippines – Baguio (UPB) and the Benguet State University (BSU) have already confirmed their provision of a brief academic break, with UPB’s break lasting until November 8 and BSU starting on November 8 until the 13th.
UPB also postponed its exams in accordance with the provision of a break.
On Saturday, October 30, hundreds of Saint Louis University (SLU) students gathered in front of the university’s main gate on Saturday night to call for an academic break.
The protest action led to the dialogue held between city officials, academic professionals, and students.
Mystica Bucad, president of the SLU student council, cited an increasing incidence of self-harm and two suicides driven by academic pressure since the past year. But the SLU administration claims that the information provided is unverified and unreliable.
“Regardless of the number, two youths giving up their precious lives because of academic pressure is still alarming to our institutions and the whole community,” Bucad said.
However, the proposed academic break will still depend on the school calendar of each of the higher education institutions because each institution has a different mode of conducting classes, aside from the fact that the proposed break will form part of their respective school calendars in the coming years.
For their part, representatives of the teaching and non-teaching employees of the schools also claimed that the students are not the only ones suffering from stress and mental problems because of their respective workloads; thus, they expressed their all-out support to the implementation of the academic break even in a per-school basis for them to be relieved of their stress and other mental issues.
The student leaders and the school heads agreed to work closely with each other to ascertain the most appropriate time for the proposed academic break in their respective institutions to abate the occurrence of mental health issues among students that may also have an impact on the image of the institutions as nurturers of future leaders.
Magalong emphasized the need for the concerned stakeholders to embrace academic resilience and collaboration to help address mental health issues being faced by students.
He called on concerned parties to come up with a consensus that fosters campus unity and harmony to help in sustaining the gains of the ongoing implementation of flexible learning as part of the interventions of the government to continue delivering quality education.
The concerned stakeholders are also considering the proposals of some sectors for the sustained implementation of non-academic activities during the academic break that will provide diversionary activities to give students respite and relieve the stress and mental issues they are experiencing with the stringent requirements being imposed by educators. – with reports from NUSP