LAOAG CITY, Philippines—An official of the Department of Education (DepEd) has condemned the expulsion of three students from a private high school for speaking in Ilocano on campus last month.
Cecilia Aribuabo, DepEd supervisor in Ilocos Norte, said while the Saviour’s Christian Academy (SCA) has a strict “English only” policy, the expulsion of the students was not appropriate.
On July 31, a memorandum signed by SCA principal, Cristeta Pedro, was sent to the three students and their parents, advising them to transfer to another school for defying the order of the school president, Pastor Brian Shah, not to speak Ilocano while on campus.
SCA’s policy on the exclusive use of English applies to all students, parents and teachers.
Pedro said Shah had called the attention of the students several times and warned them about the consequence of speaking Ilocano but they continued to defy his order.
The SCA student handbook states a student “shall be reprimanded for speaking the vernacular inside the campus.” Students are expelled when they are caught smoking, drinking or for “inappropriate action” while in school uniform and outside the campus. Posting indecent photos and derogatory words on social media accounts is also punishable by expulsion.
But Aribuabo said the school officials should have given the students another chance.
“The students are in their formative years and as adults, it is the duty of elders [like the school president and teachers] to guide them,” Aribuabo said. “How I wish they (SCA) should have reviewed the sanction and gave the students another chance.”
She said while DepEd has been trying hard to encourage students to finish school, there are schools, like SCA, that are driving them away.
“This is the danger when we expel students, we are not guiding them and worse, we lose control of them when they are out of school. The school administrator should have contacted us and sought advice,” Aribuabo said.
One of the expelled students had transferred to Divine World College of Laoag while another went to Sarrat National High School in Sarrat town. The third student is applying at Holy Spirit Academy.
The mother of one the three expelled students said only one of the children spoke an Ilocano cuss word when they discussed a class project that had to be submitted but was supposedly taken by another student.