MANILA, Philippines -- All public elementary and high school students will no longer be required to wear uniforms, Education Secretary Jesli Lapus announced on Tuesday.
Lapus? announcement expanded the coverage of an earlier order by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, in a speech Monday, exempting six-year-olds entering Grade One from the uniform requirement to lessen the expenses of their families.
The education secretary also reminded public school officials to strictly observe the no-fee collection policy to ensure schoolchildren, particularly, those enrolling in the first elementary grades, are prevented from attending classes because of poverty.
"These are all in line with our policy that public education must have no cost," he told reporters in an interview before Tuesday?s Cabinet meeting.
Still, Lapus stressed that, even without uniforms, public school students should observe the proper dress code, adding the department would come out with guidelines soon.
He added that students must wear their identification cards at all times while inside the campus.
Responding to criticisms that not requiring uniforms would be more costly since students would have to buy different sets of clothes every so often, Lapus said those who choose to continue wearing uniforms may do so.
He said government is hoping the public school enrollment rate increases now that the uniform requirement has been removed.
Meanwhile, the Presidential Task Force on Education has given assurances the opening of classes next week will be smooth.
The task force briefed Arroyo on preparations for the new school year during Tuesday's Cabinet meeting.
Fr. Bienvenido Nebres, task force chairman, said 2,000 teachers are being trained for English proficiency and classrooms are being readied.
Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) chief Augusto Syjuco Jr. said Arroyo has approved another P1 billion for scholarships for his agency and the Commission on Higher Education.