MMDA proposes 4-day school week during Metro construction period

Manila, Philippines – While colleges and universities are shifting their academic calendars, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) wants to introduce a new kind of schedule covering elementary and high schools.

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino yesterday formally asked the Department of Education (DepEd) to consider his proposal to shorten the school week to four days as a solution to help reduce vehicular volume during the construction of 15 major road infrastructure in Metro Manila.

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino yesterday formally asked the Department of Education (DepEd) to consider his proposal to shorten the school week to four days as a solution to help reduce vehicular volume during the construction of 15 major road infrastructure in Metro Manila.

In a letter to Department of Education Secretary Armin Luistro, Tolentino stressed how the shortened school week can be beneficial, with the projected traffic delays, once the construction of roadworks starts.

“The solution is not perfect and has room to adjust to fit in the Philippine school system. However, it is also undoubtedly a scheme that will redound to the benefit of the general public and help improve the traffic situation in Metro Manila,” said in his letter.

He said the proposed scheme has long been practiced successfully in several countries, particularly in the United States, which resulted in less traffic congestion and reduced education and energy costs.

Tolentino said 21 US states have been implementing the shortened school week scheme, which was implemented as early as the 1930s. These states include Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Montana, Nebraska, and New Mexico, Tolentino said, citing data from the US National Council of State Legislatures (NCSL).

Tolentino pointed out that the shortened school week will not only help reduce vehicular and pedestrian volume in major thoroughfares but will also bring about significant reductions in transportation and education costs.

It will also help improve morale and increased attendance by both students and teaching personnel. “With only four days in school, students and teachers have more time to spend with their families and loved ones,” he said.

Driving along Epifanio delos Santos Avenue (EDSA) at a speed of 10 to 15 kilometers per hour every day during rush hour is not far from happening with the overlapping schedules of the 15 major infrastructure projects in Metro Manila, Tolentino said. “At the site of the construction itself, if two lanes will be closed, half of the road capacity will be reduced and half the travel speed will also be reduced,” said Tolentino.

He said two of the projects — the Skyway 3 project and the NAIA Expressway Phase 2 — will begin construction on Monday, February 17.

“At least 52 percent of traffic volume along Osmena Highway will be diverted to EDSA and C5 once the Skyway Stage 3 construction starts,” said Tolentino. With this projection, motorists in Metro Manila would face heavier traffic volume and slower traffic speed in Metro Manila’s main roads, he said.

Apart from the proposed four-day school scheme, Tolentino also called on universities and colleges to adopt distance learning or “open university” system as a means to reduce commuter and vehicular traffic volume in major thoroughfares.

He also suggested flexible work hours for private and public institutions, carpooling, biking, and planned trips as traffic-alleviating measures.

Apart from the Skyway and NAIA, other projects are also scheduled in the coming months. These are the Gil Puyat-Makati-Avenue-Paseo de Roxas underpass, the Sta. Monica-Lawton Avenue bridge, the CP Garcia Avenue-McKinley Hill ramp, the repair and asphalt overlay of Magallanes Interchange, the EDSA-Taft Avenue flyover, thye MRT Line 3-LRT Line 1 extension common station, the LRT Line 2 East extension up to Masinag, the LRT Line 1 Extension (Cavite), EDSA- Roosevelt Ave. interchange, the Espana Avenue-Lacson Avenue interchange, the repair and rehabilitation and improvement of South Superhighway Makati, the NLEX-SLEX connector road, and the EDSA-West Avenue-North Avenue interchange.

Tolentino said Metro Manila has only 5,035 roadways and about 3,000 more are needed.

“For a 636-square kilometer Metro Manila, we need 8,000 kilometers of roadway. Seoul, Korea, has 636 square kilometers, same as Metro Manila, but their roadways are 8,000 kilometers,” he said.

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