By MORTZ C. ORTIGOZA
As graduation nears in the public schools, some if not many poor parents of those students who will graduate or move up in Grade 6, Junior and Senior High Schools complained of the graduation fees that run to hundreds of pesos.
Reports that come to my radio program say that P900, P725, and P500 have been exacted by school principals and teachers in high school, elementary and day care.
“Bakit pati sa day care may P500, e iyong city mayor ng Dagupan subsidized already the barangay captains on that?” posed to me by a mother who has a son who would be graduating at the City High School.
Another parent Patrick Jurado complained that his child was asked by his Grade 6 teacher at West Central School in Dagupan City to pay six hundred pesos. Other parents I was told coughed up seven hundred twenty pesos in the same grade.
Here’s Department of Education Secretary Leonor Briones through Department Order No. 8 series 2017 on the “No Collection Policy” and “Austerity Program” of the Department on the graduates in elementary, junior and senior high schools in public schools.
“In line with the government’s AUSTERITY (emphasis mine) program, graduation rite should be SIMPLE but meaningful which encourage civil rights, a sense of community and personal responsibility.”
“Reminding all public schools those expenses for graduation activity should be charged to the School Maintenance and Operating Expenses (MOOE) under its 2017 budget”.
“DepEd personnel should not be allowed to collect any graduation fees or any kind of contribution. However, the Parents and Teachers Association (PTA) may give DONATION in cash or in kind. Moreover, contribution for the yearbook will be on voluntary basis only”.
When the school principal Valentina Hortaleza and her staff and some members of the Parents & Teachers Association (PTA) came to my station and justified their collection as voluntary, I told her that a white toga including a cap is rented only for P50 apiece according to a toga for leased owner.
“Saan napunta ngayon ang P300 ng P350 na contribution your teacher asked from each of the parents,” I posed to the principal on the P350 graduation fee as the other P375 for the graduation picture package, year book, corsage, and others was optional.
Hortaleza gave me the breakdown of the other expenses where the sum would be spent. They are: Thanks Giving Mass held in March 27, 2017 where stipend or payment to a priest and choir was included, food, flowers, and offertory. Expenses for April 4 graduation are stage decoration and hall tarpaulin, sound system to be rented, flowers like roses to be offered by the pupils to their parents, leis and corsage, 675 mono-block chairs, program and invitation, medals, plaques (for guest speaker and guests), frames for the certificates, snacks of the graduates, toga, ribbon for graduates, food for the guests, envelopes for the certificates, pentel pen, transportation of railings and snacks for the volunteers, and fare.
With say 600 graduates based on the mono-block chairs mentioned above multiplied with P350 contribution, granted all were paid, that would be a P250 thousand collection for this elementary public school.
If quantified with the P600 like those billed to complainant parent Patrick Jurado by the Grade 6 teacher that would be a whooping P360 thousand.
Since the D.O No. 8 of Secretary Briones covers private school, she should look at the Mother Goose Special Science High School in Dagupan City that billed its graduating pupils and Grade 10 students P4,300 and P6,400 (including the P900 graduation pictures) respectively. It seems those amount were unconscionable if not atrocious unless the school has its reason why it billed them.
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