DepEd official pushes use of “Sablay” instead of toga in elementary, high school graduations

Robie de Guzman   •   February 20, 2020   •   556

MANILA, Philippines – An official from the Department of Education (DepEd) is proposing the use of “sablay” instead of the toga which is usually used for end-of-school year rites in elementary and secondary schools.

In a Facebook post, Education Undersecretary Alain Pascua confirmed reports circulating on social media that he is pushing for the use of sablay instead of graduation toga in the basic education level.

Based on an Aide Memoire, which bears Pascua’s name and signature, the use of toga has deep Western roots and not Filipino.

Pascua also said that the use of toga “does not inspire loyalty to the country, but only serves as a reminder of a colonial past.”

He also said that the toga, which covers the whole body, is impractical and uncomfortable to use in a tropical country like the Philippines.

The Education official added that renting and buying of a toga, with gown and cap, is an additional expense and an added burden on parents.

Pascua pointed out that using sablay in end-of-school-year rites will “instill patriotism and nationalism among young learners,” and “promote local culture and national diversity.”

“[It] will nurture ethnic roots and perpetuate the production of local textiles of indigenous peoples,” he added.

An Aide Memoire is “a written summary or outline of important items of a proposed agreement or diplomatic communication,” which Pascua said his office usually issues to the Secretary, the DepEd Execom and Mancom, among others, as a briefer for current issues, position paper, or policy proposals.

Pascua said he does not have any idea how the document leaked online as this has yet to be discussed with DepEd officials.

“The Aide Memoire in question did indeed come from me, which I sent to a DepEd Execom and Mancom Groups for their consideration and feedback, but somehow the aide-memoire leaked through posts on Facebook,” he said.

“To clarify, the Aide-Memoire has yet to be discussed at the Execom-Mancom levels and remains a proposition,” he added.

He, however, pointed out that one positive outcome of the leak was that they were able to glean at the public’s sentiment towards the proposal, “which has generally been favorable and very welcoming, give or take a few concerns that need to be addressed should the proposal be considered.”

“We at the Department of Education (DepEd) value feedback and encourage everyone to voice their concerns and ideas. Lastly, this incident helps reinforce the importance of checking facts and sources,” he said.

He also stressed that DepEd officially releases its issuances through its website, www.deped.gov.ph, and its various official social media accounts.

“At all times, OUA issuances are released at DepEd workplace,” he said.

Schools may forego graduation rites if risk of coronavirus escalates — DepEd

Marje Pelayo   •   March 11, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Education (DepEd) has adopted social distancing measures for the rest of the School Year 2019-2020 amid the public health risk posed by coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

“The suspension of classes in NCR, as advised by the expert panel of the Department of Health (DOH) and decided by the President upon recommendation of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID), constitutes a social distancing measure intended to mitigate or slow down community transmission,” Education Secretary Leonor Briones said in a statement following new confirmations of COVID-19 cases and the announcements of local transmission in the country.

Given the current situation, the DepEd Executive Committee adopted the following directives to the field for all DepEd schools:

• In NCR, considering the class suspension directed by the President for March 10 to 14, all teachers with the supervision of the Regional, Schools Division and School officials, shall schedule all remaining 4th Quarter Examinations in the week of March 16 to 20 on a staggered basis to reduce the number of students in the school per day. Teachers shall communicate with their students on pointers for review for examination and may opt to work from home. Students shall come to school next week (March 16 to 20) on the day of their respective examination schedules.

• Outside NCR, all teachers shall use the next three days (March 11 to 13) for any 4th Quarter Examinations already scheduled, or to catch up with all remaining class requirements, and to schedule all remaining 4th Quarter Examinations for the week of March 16 to 20 on similar staggered basis. Students shall come to school next week (March 16 to 20) on the day of their respective examination schedules.

• After the 4th Quarter Examinations have been taken, any further school requirements shall as far as practicable be done as home-based assignments. Any compelling need to come to school shall observe all applicable COVID-19 precautions.

As the end of the current school year draws near, Briones said the decision to push through with moving up and graduation rites shall be to the discretion of school administrators.

They may elect a date of the ceremony within the week of April 13 to 17 taking into consideration the applicable guidelines by the DOH and the Health Department’s guidelines on mass gatherings.

“Should the public health situation prevent the holding of the graduation and moving up rites within the said week, the schools, in consultation with the PTA leadership, may choose to reschedule or forego the holding of graduation and moving up rites,” the Education Secretary said.

Briones emphasized that the social distancing measure will only be effective if stakeholders – students, parents and local governments – will share their individual part in ensuring that students avoid places like malls, movie houses, markets, and similar crowded places.

DepEd urged to suspend graduation rites amid COVID-19 threat

Robie de Guzman   •   March 10, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – A lawmaker has urged the Department of Education (DepEd) to postpone the scheduled graduation rites this March as a precaution against the spread of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the country.

In a statement issued Tuesday, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian proposed the suspension of graduation ceremonies, including daycare, high school and moving-up rites, nationwide following the government’s declaration of a state of public health emergency over the coronavirus disease.

He said postponing these events may help prevent the further spread of the virus.

“Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), who usually are parents or relatives of the graduates, tend to show up in graduation rites and this might compromise the safety of students, teachers, and all school personnel present in the occasion,” he said.

DepEd earlier stated that graduation rites for this year should be held not earlier than March 30, but not later than April 3.

Gatchalian also suggested the cancellation of other activities such as field trips, film showing, and other events imposed by some schools as a requirement for graduation or completion.

As of this writing, the Philippines has 33 confirmed coronavirus infections.

On Monday, President Rodrigo Duterte declared a state of public health emergency following the hoisting of Code Red Sublevel 1 by the Department of Health after it confirmed the country’s first case of local transmission.

Use lead-safe medals, trophies for graduation—Eco-group

Aileen Cerrudo   •   March 29, 2019

MANILA, Philippines — An eco-group urges schools to use lead-safe medals and trophies for their graduation.

EcoWaste Coalition reported that out of the 15 medal samples they examined, nine were found to contain lead.

They found cheap and unlabeled medals tainted with lead paint. These were sold for P25 in Quiapo and Sta. Cruz, Manila.

Based on Department Order no. 4 series of 2017 of the Department of Education (Deped), only lead-safe coatings or paints shall be mandatory to all pre-school, elementary and secondary schools.

The group laments that they still find school achievement medals with lead paint.

“Children’s products must be safe from lead, a hazardous substance that is known to harm the brain, decrease intelligence, stunt development and growth, and cause behavioral disorders,” according to Thony Dizon, the Chemical Safety Campaigner of EcoWaste Coalition.

EcoWaste is also calling for the amendment of DepEd’s Department Order No. 36, series of 2016 or the “Policy Guidelines on Awards and Recognition for the K to 12 Basic Education Program”.

The group suggests that schools can opt to give out certificates of achievement or recognition to outstanding students instead of medals. This is for the students to be safe from lead and other chemicals.

“If medals are preferred, the EcoWaste Coalition advised schools to go for plain, unpainted medals unless the paint used is guaranteed compliant with the government’s regulation,” according to their statement.—Aileen Cerrudo

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