Monday, June 13, 2011

DepEd Zero Collection Policy Continuously Stirs Confusion

Gilbert M. Forbes

Although the Zero Collection policy of DepEd has been there for years, still, it has continuously stirring and creating confusion in the field every time enrollment comes.  Parents have been consistent on reporting teachers and school officials who are allegedly not following DepEd’s ruling about it only to find out that what they are collecting are accounts of the previous school year which parents have failed to settle.

What is surprising is that most of these schools are located in highly progressive and urbanized places which have more resources than their counterparts in rural and highly depressed areas.  The Learning Captain learned that collection ranges from Php300.00 to more than Php500 due partly to additional expenses that parents agreed to shoulder e.g., security guards, computer instructor, utilities, and test paper printing.

Due to media mileage, it is also creating negative impression among one sided parents that everything is totally free to the detriment of school operations nation wide which are dependent on parents and community support for its major operating expenses such as test paper printing, electricity and for some water.

DepEd Order No. 41, s. 2011 and DepEd Order No. 19, s. 2008 clearly state that no fees shall be collected from kindergarten to grade four pupils through out the school year.  This prohibition covers authorized but voluntary contributions such as BSP, GSP, Red Cross, Anti-TB Fund and PTA.

Above statement is confusing and are actually in contradiction with realities in the field.  For instance, what if a primary pupil wants to be a Star and Kab Scouts and the parents agreed to voluntarily pay for the membership fees?  What about the PTA Fund which involves every parent?  Does it mean they will no longer be required to pay for the agreed PTA fees?    Does it mean that nothing shall be collected from them?  What about the publication fee?  Does it mean that only grade five and six pupils could voluntarily pay the publication and scouting membership fees?  Allowing only the intermediate grades to pay for the publication fees will surely not sustain its existence among schools will less than two thousand enrollment considering printing cost, transportation and registration expenses during press conferences.

Majority of the school leaders have explained and established partnerships with their existing PTA’s with regards to expenses that they need to shoulder particularly test paper printing and electricity because though some are already receiving their MOOE, still it’s not enough to cover even half of their yearly electric bills.  However, with reference to DepEd Order No. 41, s. 2011 and  DepEd Order No. 19, s. 2008, all of these turns to be not allowed because literally, this move will still include parents of kinder to grade four pupils who are being protected by the said guidelines.

The last recourse usually is to turn to LGU’S for assistance.  But some LGU officials from 3rd to 5th class municipalities are already reacting why DepEd has to ask for things they could no longer afford.  “It would be alright for rich municipalities, but even first class municipalities SEF Fund isn’t enough to assist our schools because big chunk of it usually go to Sports or to salaries of locally funded teachers.”

DepEd certainly has to clarify these things up because it is the teachers who are suffering in shouldering basic operating expenses which the parents or the government should shoulder while school heads are afraid of being reprimanded or face administrative charges.
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