Free Public Secondary Education in The Philippines

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Education in the elementary level and free public education in the high school level. http://www.dbm.gov.ph/OPIF_2007/deped.pdf

Parents from depressed areas welcomed this act when it was implemented. It’s a big help because students can enroll without “cash involved.” Before, the late Education Secretary Roco mandated all public schools not to compel parents to pay any fee during enrolment, the school used to ask for certain amount upon enrolment. These are voluntary contributions. Although it says “it is free,” students are asked to give voluntary contributions for boy scouts, girl scouts, PTA, red cross, school paper, etc. However, if a parent cannot give a single centavo, the school cannot deny enrolment nor withhold the report card at the end of the school year.

 One of the concerned teachers approached this writer and said “The school I am stationed is a public secondary school. Although we have funds for school supplies and equipment (from the MOEE), but the budget for services is not included. We need to hire guards to secure the school, and utility workers to maintain the cleanliness of the school. The PTA shoulders only the salaries of these employees. The budget for this allocation is taken from the PTA fund. There is also a budget for the school paper collected from the students. Around 100 pesos plus is collected from each student (except athletes) payable within the year. This is being contested by some parents who argued that they should not pay because public school is free. We tried to explain that it is still free because they are not paying any tuition and miscellaneous fees, unlike in private schools. Some smart parents insist that since it is voluntary, they may or may not give. We have to explain again that if they do not contribute the prescribed amount, we cannot pay for the services of the school guards and the utility workers. Who else will do these jobs?”

Anybody in the academe, especially in the public schools, wishes that the proponents of this act may add the portion legalizing collection of voluntary contributions for the upkeep of the school because the DepEd does not have the budget intended for the aforecited services and collections. Otherwise, if they really do not want to burden the parents, they should have allocated funds for these services in all public schools nationwide.

It’s ironical to hear that the superintendent had returned the excess funds for the year to the DBM because these were unused. These excess funds could have been used for these utility services. Then, there would be no collections in the schools anymore if these suggestions merit the utilizations of all the services concerned.

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