By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – As in previous years, reports reveal that there is, again, an exodus of students from private schools to public schools this school year 2013-2014. Exodus, according to the dictionary, means mass departure of people.
But this year could be worse.
The Department of Education approved the application of more than 200 private schools to increase tuition and other fees. As a result, I too opted to transfer my children to a public school. One school official we talked with during the enrollment said, this year they received a number of transferee students from private schools.
News reports show parents who had to transfer their children to public schools crying. Some parents reveal that they have unpaid balances in the private school where their children used to study. One public service program even helped a parent get her child’s report card because a private school refused to release it until the unpaid balance is paid.
A parent I personally know is in the same predicament. She was told by her daughter’s adviser that her daughter will be dropped from school if she fails to submit her report card and form 137 from the previous school year until the end of July because her daughter is just temporarily enrolled. The private school where her daughter attended last year however, refused to release it despite their pleadings. “We will not release even a photocopy of your child’s report card. You have to pay your unpaid balance.”
Profits override humanitarian considerations. Why deny the child her right to education?
That parent while telling me her story was crying, very worried over her daughter’s education. She said she cannot produce money to pay the balance because her ex-husband has stopped giving sustenance to their daughter. “Would they really drop my daughter?” she asked me. Honestly, I don’t know. A public school is supposed make education a basic social service accessible to all. If that teacher drops the child then she too becomes an instrument for denying the child her right to education.
The mere fact that the DepEd has approved the increase in tuition of 200 private schools, it practically denied many children their right to education.
Meanwhile, as more students transfer to public schools. Perennial problems still greet students of public schools every year and it’s getting worse.
The way Bro. Armin Luistro talks on television, it appears that the education system in the country is doing well. The education department bragged about having met the shortages in classrooms, books, and chairs. But many news reports belied this as shortages were widespread in the National Capital Region.
My grade five daughter does not have all the textbooks she needs. The books of my grade two daughter look so old and torn. I began to worry as some of the topics line up were already taken up in their previous school. Aren’t we wasting one year of education here in a public school?
My grade two daughter’s classroom has only one functioning electric fan and there are more than 40 pupils in one classroom. When I attended the parent-teachers meeting last Friday in that the same classroom I became restless and uncomfortable because of the heat. What more if the children would stay six hours in that scorching hot classroom? Their teacher complained that he used his own money to pay for the expenses in painting the classroom because the school has no budget for repairs.
In the general PTA meeting last Saturday, the principal reported the low scores the students got during the national achievement test (NAT) and blamed the lack of ventilation in the classrooms making students uninterested in listening to the teachers’ lessons. These testimonies that I myself heard are proof that Luistro is lying and covering up for the government’s inability to address the fundamental problems in the country’s education system.
Then there’s K to 12 program that aims to produce semi-skilled laborers to be peddled to multinational companies. Luistro said K to 12 will bring quality education in the public school system. But sitting in that classroom without proper ventilation? How would learning be enjoyable when you are wet from perspiration or your teacher has lost his voice because he’s almost screaming while teaching? I guess Luistro have to sit in in classrooms where there is no electric fan, in schools where there are not enough classrooms or toilet facilities, in a class with more than 50 students and see if he can still hear the lessons. Then maybe he may come up with a better solution.