Another school year
Published by the Visayan Daily Star Publications, Inc.
|NINFA R. LEONARDIA|
Editor-in-Chief & President
NIDA A. BUENAFE
MAJA P. DELY
ANTONIO L. LEONARDIA|
With the new school year coming up and an estimated 21 million students expected to troop to public elementary and high schools when classes open on June 4, the Department of Education has included among the guidelines for school administrators and teachers a prohibition on the collection of fees from kindergarten up to Grade 4 pupils in public schools.
Education Secretary Armin Luistro announced that fees for organizations such as the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and the Philippine Red Cross may be collected only from students in the fifth grade through high school and only on a voluntary basis, and starting only in August. Fees for parent-teacher associations, school publications and student organizations should also be voluntary.
Luistro stressed that “in no case shall the nonpayment of voluntary school contributions or membership fees be made a basis for the nonadmission, nonpromotion or nonissuance of clearances to students by schools”. Aside from reminding teachers and school officials that according to the Code of Ethics for Professional Teachers, only PTAs are allowed to handle contributions; Luistro also told them to refrain from doing business in schools and classrooms, taking pains to stress the prohibition from selling or requiring the purchase of locally produced workbooks, instructional materials, test booklets, school supplies and other items.
We admire the focus of the DepEd on keeping the school opening as painless and expense-free as possible for the students and their parents and while we would like to thinking that most of the school administrators and teachers will heed these warnings, we still hope that the DepEd has put together a mechanism that will allow students and parents to be able to confidently and confidentially report any infractions, not only with regards to these guidelines against compulsory fees and business-minded educators, but also all other complaints with regards to how schools are run and the students treated. Just because education is free, it does not mean that its quality can be compromised and it is the duty of the DepEd to, not only enforce the rules for the teachers and administrators, but also to ensure that parents or students have a secure forum where they can disclose anomalies and report questionable or abusive practices.
At the onset of the 2012-2013 school year, we wish the DepEd the best of luck in its efforts to improve the delivery and quality of education in this country.*