MARCH 27-28 GRADUATION DATE SET FOR PUBLIC SCHOOLS

The Department of Education (DepEd) has set the schedule of graduation for all public elementary and high schools in the country on March 27 and 28. A DepEd official said the agency would announce a different schedule of graduation rites for areas devastated by Super Typhoon Yolanda last year. Education Secretary Armin Luistro urged public schools to keep graduation ceremonies simple. He also reiterated DepEd’s “No Collection” policy on graduation fees. He reminded that there should be no forced collection of graduation fees among graduating students nationwide. The collection of graduation fee should not be a hindrance for students who cannot afford to pay their fees during graduation rites, Luistro noted. The DepEd also said it continues to assist Yolanda-affected schools in retrieving crucial records of students, especially those who are graduating next month.

ALSO: DepEd chief, UP professors buck new school calendar

There is no compelling reason to change the academic calendar for elementary and high
schools, the Department of Education (DepEd) said yesterday. Although they are not convinced on the urgency and necessity of the move, Education Secretary Armin Luistro said they are open to proposals to change the school opening from June to August or September. At the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City, faculty members have voted not to endorse the proposal of its administrators to move the opening of classes from June to August. But UP vice president for public affairs Prospero de Vera said the position of the faculty of the university’s flagship campus to conduct further study on the issue is only a recommendation. He said the decision is up to the Board of Regents (BOR), the university’s highest policy-making body. Top universities in the country have announced plans to move the school opening to September in preparation for the economic integration of the Southeast Asian region in 2015. This means that from the current June to March cycle, the academic year will run from September to June. Under the scheme, Philippine universities are expected to attract foreign students and facilitate the enrollment abroad of Filipino students and faculty members.

Critique: Leave private schools alone

When he was DepEd Secretary, the late Raul S. Roco called heads of private schools and told them that he was giving them the freedom to do whatever was best for their students. “I have to take care of 40,000 public schools (at that time),” he said, “I don’t have time to take care of you. Will you please take care of yourselves?” As a result, during his term, private schools prospered (or died) because of the market, not because or in spite of government regulations. We should remember that the DepEd prepares its rules primarily for public schools. Private schools make up a minority of schools in basic education. Rules are meant for the majority of the population, not for the exceptions. A good example is the general rule that you must go from one grade to another in sequence. We know a number of very smart students around the world who jump grades (are accelerated).

ALSO: OMG! Gardens of life

In Metro Manila, imagining self-sustaining communities within the most densely populated areas is a growing vision of redevelopment. The transforming of urban lots into sources of livelihood, community-building and enhanced nutrition levels has been the mission of the Oh my Gulay! advocacy program. The goal? Soil remediation, beautification and enhanced nutrition. Vacant lots in elementary schools in the most densely populated and malnourished areas of the country are being harnessed to provide food production opportunities, encourage community revitalization and enhance nutrition levels. In addition, through literacy, nutrition advocacy and teaching the basic values of team work and good citizenship, this program has proven that urban farming projects can sow and reap seeds of hope and gardens do have the power to inspire and uplift neighborhoods. The primary vision of the Oh my Gulay! project is to alleviate nutritional deficiencies among underprivileged children and their families, connecting schools under the Department of Education and community members with the East-West Seed Foundation and members from the private sector, to ensure means and access to fresh organic produce.


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March 27-28 graduation set for public schools

MANILA, FEBRUARY 10, 2014 (PHILSTAR)  By Helen Flores - The Department of Education (DepEd) has set the schedule of graduation for all public elementary and high schools in the country on March 27 and 28.

A DepEd official said the agency would announce a different schedule of graduation rites for areas devastated by Super Typhoon Yolanda last year.

Education Secretary Armin Luistro urged public schools to keep graduation ceremonies simple.

He also reiterated DepEd’s “No Collection” policy on graduation fees. He reminded that there should be no forced collection of graduation fees among graduating students nationwide.

The collection of graduation fee should not be a hindrance for students who cannot afford to pay their fees during graduation rites, Luistro noted.

The DepEd also said it continues to assist Yolanda-affected schools in retrieving crucial records of students, especially those who are graduating next month.

DepEd Assistant Secretary Rey Laguda said the agency is also looking at issuing certification to students, whose records could no longer be recovered.

At least 7,300 students, or about 10 percent of the 78,000 public elementary and high school students in Yolanda-hit areas, lost their school records.

“Records that have been partially damaged were digitally captured and sent to division offices. Those that were lost or totally destroyed are being reconstructed using other available documents,” said DepEd Director for Technical Services Rogelio Morales.

In the four divisions of Tacloban City, Eastern Samar, Ormoc City and Leyte alone, records of 78,000 students in elementary and high school have been affected, he said.

In these areas, around 41,627 were deemed intact, 9,669 had partial damage, and 7,297 were lost or totally destroyed. The students’ permanent school records contained in Form 137 was identified as a priority, he added.

EARLIER NEWS

DepEd chief, UP professors buck new school calendar By Helen Flores (The Philippine Star) | Updated January 8, 2014 - 12:00am 36 269 googleplus0 1

MANILA, Philippines - There is no compelling reason to change the academic calendar for elementary and high schools, the Department of Education (DepEd) said yesterday. Although they are not convinced on the urgency and necessity of the move, Education Secretary Armin Luistro said they are open to proposals to change the school opening from June to August or September.

At the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City, faculty members have voted not to endorse the proposal of its administrators to move the opening of classes from June to August.

But UP vice president for public affairs Prospero de Vera said the position of the faculty of the university’s flagship campus to conduct further study on the issue is only a recommendation.

He said the decision is up to the Board of Regents (BOR), the university’s highest policy-making body.

Top universities in the country have announced plans to move the school opening to September in preparation for the economic integration of the Southeast Asian region in 2015.

This means that from the current June to March cycle, the academic year will run from September to June. Under the scheme, Philippine universities are expected to attract foreign students and facilitate the enrollment abroad of Filipino students and faculty members. 

DepEd Assistant Secretary Jesus Mateo said they would discuss the matter in their next meeting.

Luistro said unlike in tertiary education, there is no common school opening among ASEAN countries. He said schools in Brunei Darussalam open in January, Cambodia in October, Indonesia in July, Laos in September, Vietnam in August, Thailand in May, and Myanmar and the Philippines in June.

“Student mobility is very limited among grade school and high school students in ASEAN,” he said, adding that changing the school calendar would mean that classes would run until the hottest months of the year.

He said public schools have no air-conditioning system and it is during summer when traditional celebrations like Holy Week, Flores de Mayo, and town fiestas are held.

“These might affect attendance,” Luistro said as he expressed concern the hot months of April and May could have a negative impact on learning. He said moving the school opening does not necessarily solve the problem on flooding during the typhoon season as weather patterns keep changing.

Luistro said the agency has been exploring various means to allow students to catch up with their lessons, particularly when classrooms are used as evacuation centers.

“School heads and field officials also employ strategies such as holding of make-up classes to ensure continuity of learning,” he said.

No endorsement

In a text message to The STAR, UP-Diliman chancellor Caesar Saloma said the Diliman university council – which is composed of all tenured faculty in the campus – voted against the proposal during its meeting on Dec. 2.

He said a forum is set in UP-Diliman next month “to study the history of academic calendar in the Philippines, and to discuss the effectiveness of learning and knowledge transfer to college students when there are differences in the school year schedule and the fiscal year.”

The forum, however, may take place a little late if the 11-member BOR decides to vote on the proposal later this month. The issue was discussed during the November and December BOR meetings.

De Vera said the position of the Diliman university council does not reflect that of other UP campuses, which have finished consultations and expressed readiness for the shift.

UP has seven constituent universities – Diliman, Manila, Los Baños, Baguio, Visayas, Mindanao, an Open University and an autonomous college in Cebu.

De Vera said UP president Alfredo Pascual wants the new school calendar implemented this year.

Aside from Pascual, the other members of the BOR include Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Chairman Patricia Licuanan, Sen. Pia Cayetano and Pasig City Rep. Roman Romulo.

Three other members are Malacañang appointees and the rest are representatives from the alumni, faculty, students and staff.

Asean integration

De Vera earlier said the ASEAN integration in 2015 is one of the main factors that contributed to the decision of Pascual to push for the change in the academic calendar.

“One of the components of ASEAN integration is the free movement of trade and services across the region. It has an impact on higher education. We’ll have movement of students and faculty members,” he said.

The five-page policy proposal of the university noted that the shift “is consistent with the provision of UP’s charter to be a regional and global university, and addresses current developments in the region and the world.”

It said that most members of the ASEAN University Network – as well as China, Japan, Korea, European Union, and the United States – start their classes in August, September or October.

The Philippines is the only country with universities in the network that start their academic year in June, said the proposal.

“Moving of classes in August will allow greater synchronization of our academic calendar with that of ASEAN, Northeast Asian, and the American and European Universities as well... There will be less problem with semestral overlaps and students can easily get credit transfer on a per semester basis,” it added.

De Vera said there should be no problem about the longer break of high school students who will graduate in March, noting that they could use it to look for scholarships and enroll in bridging programs.

He said the calendar shift could also have a good impact on classes, as there will be no interruptions during Christmas break, which will be the new semestral break if the shift is implemented.

De Vera said the proposed shift does not need the approval of CHED since UP is an autonomous university. – With Janvic Mateo

Leave private schools alone MINI CRITIQUE By Isagani Cruz (photo) (Pilipino Star Ngayon) | Updated February 6, 2014 - 12:00am 1 135 googleplus3 1

When he was DepEd Secretary, the late Raul S. Roco called heads of private schools and told them that he was giving them the freedom to do whatever was best for their students. “I have to take care of 40,000 public schools (at that time),” he said, “I don’t have time to take care of you. Will you please take care of yourselves?”

As a result, during his term, private schools prospered (or died) because of the market, not because or in spite of government regulations.

We should remember that the DepEd prepares its rules primarily for public schools. Private schools make up a minority of schools in basic education.

Rules are meant for the majority of the population, not for the exceptions.

A good example is the general rule that you must go from one grade to another in sequence. We know a number of very smart students around the world who jump grades (are accelerated).

The most famous examples are Michael Kearney (finished BS Geology at age 10), Moshe Kai Cavalin (BS Astrophysics at age 11), Alia Sabur (jumped from Grade 4 to First Year College), Adragon De Mello (Ph.D. by age 18), Gregory Smith (finished all of elementary school in one year), Akrit Jaswal (performed his first surgery at age 7), Sho Yano (entered college at age 9), and Tathagat Avatar Tulsi (finished MS Physics at age 12). (This list is from teachthought.com.) Homepage ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1

Surely, one cannot change the rule that children should finish elementary and high school before entering college. Such a rule applies to most of us mere mortals, but there are exceptional individuals that have to be covered on a case-by-case basis.

My contention is that private schools are the exceptions in the landscape of education in our country.

Of course, private schools cannot be exempted from the Mother Tongue rule. That rule is not a creation of DepEd. It is in the law. As lawyers say, the law may be harsh, but it is the law. If a private school breaks the law, it teaches its students by its example that the law is made to be broken. As all teachers know, it is what teachers do rather than what they say that influences the behavior of children.

There are so many other regulations, however, that are not in any law. They are only regulations created by DepEd. These regulations need not be imposed on private schools.

In practice, private schools do not follow the DepEd curriculum anyway. For example, the DepEd curriculum does not include Science in Grade 1, but many private schools teach it. DepEd specifies a certain number of hours on campus for students, but most private schools keep their students on campus much longer. DepEd requires only one year of Kindergarten before Grade 1; many private schools require more than one year of schooling before Grade 1.

There is also the question of tuition. DepEd does not and cannot ask parents to shell out money for the schooling of their children. Many private schools depend on tuition income for their survival.

Why DepEd has to regulate tuition in private schools is beyond me. If parents want to pay more money for their children’s education, why stop them? It’s their money.

On the other hand, if parents do not want to spend money for their children’s education, then they should send their children to public schools. There is excellent education available for free in public schools.

The key difference between public and private schools lies, however, not in tuition or quality but in their ultimate goals for children.

DepEd intends graduates of the K to 12 cycle to be “holistically developed Filipinos with 21st century skills, prepared for higher education, entrepreneurship, and employment.” These skills are “middle level skills,” consisting of “information, media and technology skills; learning and innovation skills; life and career skills; and effective communication skills.”

Compare that with the mission/vision of typical private schools.

Ateneo de Manila High School, for example, “forms Christ-centered young men of competence, conscience, compassion and commitment who will be a positive transforming difference in the life of the nation and the global community.”

The MIT International School emphasizes “mathematics, science, oral and written English,” as well as “music, painting, dance, and other arts.” (Disclosure: I am on the Advisory Board.)

The Manila Times College of Subic “adheres to the general principles of European, particularly German, dual-education, which allows students to work within real-life situations throughout their school lives.” (Disclosure: I head this school.)

The Benthel Asia School of Technology High School in Cebu “adopts a technical curriculum focusing on home economics, civil, electrical, and mechanical technology.”

The Zamboanga Chong Hua High School “commits to the total development of basic literacy, numeracy, thinking, feeling, and work skills, enriched by Chinese language studies, thereby integrating Chinese-Filipino students into the mainstream of Philippine society.”

DepEd cannot, need not, and should not do what these private schools are doing. If parents want more than what the government has to and is able to provide, they can send their children to private schools.

OMG! Gardens of life By Tricia Guerrero (The Philippine Star) | Updated February 9, 2014 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0

MANILA, Philippines - In the wake of 2013’s catastrophes, life lessons on the importance of stewardship, camaraderie and hope have been rooted in many Filipino hearts, extending beyond the areas devastated by natural disasters. The goal of sustainable transformation has been the pre-occupation of the nation, fueled by support from local and international groups and, more importantly, by the restored hope and solidarity of communities nationwide.

In Metro Manila, imagining self-sustaining communities within the most densely populated areas is a growing vision of redevelopment. The transforming of urban lots into sources of livelihood, community-building and enhanced nutrition levels has been the mission of the Oh my Gulay! advocacy program. The goal? Soil remediation, beautification and enhanced nutrition.

Vacant lots in elementary schools in the most densely populated and malnourished areas of the country are being harnessed to provide food production opportunities, encourage community revitalization and enhance nutrition levels.

In addition, through literacy, nutrition advocacy and teaching the basic values of team work and good citizenship, this program has proven that urban farming projects can sow and reap seeds of hope and gardens do have the power to inspire and uplift neighborhoods.

The primary vision of the Oh my Gulay! project is to alleviate nutritional deficiencies among underprivileged children and their families, connecting schools under the Department of Education and community members with the East-West Seed Foundation and members from the private sector, to ensure means and access to fresh organic produce.

Two years later, not only has this program helped to stop the vicious cycle of food and health disparity in adopted communities, but has also helped strengthen neighborly relationships, deepened an understanding of our environment and developed a true appreciation of food for community members nation-wide.

Launched in 2011, the advocacy program led by the DepEd, East-West Seed Foundation and supported by the private sector have been geared toward creating awareness about the nutritional value of common vegetables. Its objective has been to encourage families to plant and eat vegetables and be more concerned about nutrition.

“In our respective roles as teachers, researchers and program administrators, we’ve had the privilege to walk with many families as they discovered and re-discovered the joy of parenting primarily through the enhanced focus of their child’s health. Throughout the process, we’ve seen positive results in health and nutrition of families, in relationships and an increased appreciation and stewardship of what we have,” shares Luz Carlos, teacher for Grade IV and V at the Barangka Elementary School in Marikina City.

“Our gardens give kids an example of how to make their world a better place,” she adds.

For instance, when asked to describe the garden, one child saidd, “For me, it’s been a place where everybody is a friend and works together.”

At least one night a week, this garden brings faculty, students and their parents together to harvest, learn about nutrition and nature, and strengthen community ties. Children take home what they grow, infusing an urban neighborhood with freshly picked produce and flowers. These gardens now serve as model programs that teach nutrition and promote health through gardening.

“Hard work yields good fruit,” shares Josie Paule, executive director of OMG! Foundation. “Students dig, plant and harvest in their schoolyards and find joy in reaping the produce of their hard work. For their first planting season, project technicians worked with the children, their teachers and parents. These garden fruits yield academic and life lessons: studying the life cycle of plants reflects the school’s health and science curriculum while it imparts the value of hard work, good nutrition and responsibility,” she adds.

But Jane Ramirez of La Paz Elementary School in Makati City sees a bigger picture: “A garden helps us understand why we need to take care of our community and our town.”

A key advantage to garden programs is that they fight urban blight while restoring hope. “For us, it’s been about focusing on one’s nutrition, overall well-being, being grateful for our family, for what we have and instilling community pride,” says Ramirez.

With weekly cooking and recipe-sharing sessions among the children, parents and faculty, the gardens have been an opportunity for them to socialize, and better know and appreciate each other. “The garden is a free-standing, living example of the empowerment of people – a reason to say, ‘Look what this little seed can create,’” says Janet Sarmiento Amurao, principal of Barangka Elementary School in Marikina City.

“These kids build technical skills, work on projects in teams, and learn things that are applicable in just about every area of life,” shares Paule.

“About P500,000 is needed to finance the setting up of the garden of about a thousand square meters or bigger; to-date, there are about 75 sponsored school gardens nationwide with one of our key partners, the Infant Pediatric and Nutrition Association of the Philippines (IPNAP), supporting 11 of these,” she adds.

“What we are looking for is the story of triumph over adversity beyond the everyday problems nature sends our way,” says Alex Castro III, executive director for IPNAP. “Most important are the challenges for the gardeners and the families, be it their physical or mental health and lack of resources. While a beautiful display of color and produce clearly shows the community’s victory, we are not just looking for impact measured in blooms, but the effect that a garden has had on nutrition levels, and family and community bonds.”

When most of the crops are harvestable, a community day or harvest festival is held to showcase to visitors the results of improved vegetable production techniques. A cooking competition using the vegetables produced is also held.

“In our area, everyone has one war, one thing that has bothered us constantly – malnutrition of our children and related to this, the lack of means and awareness on the part of the parents,” Carlos says. “In all my years living here, I’ve never seen an improvement of health, nutrition and bonding like I’m seeing now. With these simple seeds, hope and happiness has been restored.”


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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