House panel OKs bill to protect public school teachers, staff vs child abuse cases
The House committee on basic education and culture has approved a bill that seeks to strengthen the protection of public school teachers and personnel against allegations of child abuse as well as institute support mechanisms for them.
House Bill 58 or the “Teacher Protection Act of 2016,” principally authored by ACT-Teachers Reps. Antonio Tinio and France Castro, aims to amend Republic Act 7610 or the “Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act.”
Tinio said public school personnel, most especially teachers, are at the forefront of the delivery of education services to millions of students every day.
But this heavy burden of teachers, Tinio said, is “aggravated by the lack of institutional support in the form of standards and the permissible and effective methods of instilling discipline; guidance counselors to act as support personnel; and legal assistance and representation.”
“While child protection is indispensable, teacher protection is also a must,” Tinio pointed out.
According to the proposed measure, any act committed by a teacher or a staff pursuant to disciplinary rules and procedure issued by the Department of Education (DepEd) would not be deemed as child abuse, cruelty, or exploitation as defined in Republic Act No. 7610.
The proposed measure also seeks to lay down institutional support mechanisms for teachers and school personnel in matters of classroom management and discipline.
These support mechanisms include legal assistance for school teachers and school staff, as well as training on classroom management and child discipline.
The proposed measure also mandates the government to implement in all public schools clearly defined regulations on appropriate student behavior towards other students, teachers, and school staff during classes, and within and outside school premises.
It specifically tasks the DepEd to issue policies and principles on student discipline and classroom management, which would govern all Division-level student manuals.
HB 58 further instructs DepEd to formulate a student manual to be implemented in all schools under its jurisdiction, which should conform to the guidelines established. /kga