Among fresh guidelines set down by the Department of Education (DepEd) in the new school year is the prohibition on the collection of fees from kindergarten up to Grade 4 pupils in the public schools.
In an order issued last week, Education Secretary Armin Luistro said fees for organizations such as the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and Philippine Red Cross may be collected only from students in the fifth grade through high school on a voluntary basis. And the collections may only start in August.
“No fees shall be collected from school children in kindergarten up to Grade 4 anytime during school year 2012-13,” said Luistro’s May 24th order.
“No fees shall be collected from Grade 5 pupils up to high school from June to July. Beginning August 2012 until the end of the school year, fees [may be collected] on a voluntary basis,” Luistro ordered.
Fees for parent-teacher associations (PTA), school publications and student organizations may also be collected from students willing to pay up.
“It is stressed that in no case shall the nonpayment of voluntary school contributions or membership fees be made a basis for the nonadmission, nonpromotion or nonissuance of clearances to students by schools,” Luistro said.
Only PTAs are allowed to handle contributions, and teachers and school officials must keep their hands off the money.
“No teacher, school official or school personnel shall collect fees or contributions nor shall they be entrusted with the safekeeping and disbursement of collections made by the PTA pursuant to the Code of Ethics for Professional Teachers,” Luistro said.
He also reminded teachers and school officials to refrain from doing business in the schools and classrooms.
“Hence, teachers, school officials and school personnel are prohibited from selling or requiring the purchase of locally produced workbooks, instructional materials, test booklets, school supplies and other items,” Luistro said.
Some 21 million students are expected to troop to public elementary and high schools nationwide when classes open on June 4.
Meanwhile, the DepEd is inaugurating its Oplan Balik Eskwela operations center at its Pasig City central office today to coordinate the preparations for the new school year.
Regional action centers will also be set up at DepEd offices nationwide to respond to concerns, requests and complaints of students, parents, teachers and school officials.