It's back-to-school for many Filipino students yesterday while a few will start their classes anytime within this week.
The education department said 25.7 million primary and secondary school students went to 10,797 private and 55,230 public schools. Of these, 22.05 million (85.8 percent) were enrolled in public schools and the remaining 3.65 million (14.2 percent) went to private schools, The Manila Bulletin said.
Since my school days—which was not so long ago—newspaper headlines remained the same as they are today and read:
"Students, parents protest to tuition fee hike"
"School starts lacking chairs, students reading old books"
"Same problems, protests mar start of classes"
More or less, the same challenges stay unsolved in the educational system after six government administrations, which is a reflection that the system is decaying, if not decomposing over decades.
For a change, a relatively new development is on the news—a "fresh" headline, so to speak.
The education department announced on Monday that out of the 10,797 private elementary and high schools all over the Philippines, 3,000 (27.8 percent) do not have permits, recognition or the proper accreditation.
The department said these illegally-operating schools will be closed down if they do not comply with government regulations.
An official of the department said, "We will set a deadline for private schools without permit to operate to secure permits; otherwise they will be closed down.
"It is the responsibility of the parents to check and double check the permit of the school to ensure that they are operating legally."
The official further advised that parents and guardians should look for the school's "Permit to Operate" and "Business Permit" issued by the department and local government units, respectively.
I find it appalling that a government official passes the responsibility to parents. If we follow the official's advice, what will the education department do?
The department cannot solve the perennial problems of lack of classrooms, books and tuition fee hikes. What about monitoring? Why can't they monitor the permits themselves?
Some students may have already been enrolled. Parents are doubling themselves to find resources for their children's matriculation fees, and here is the education department adding more to the problems.
I deem it necessary that the education department be the ones to inform the parents long before enrollment start and not on the school opening itself because doing so merely suggests they are seeking media attention.
Details of this report here.