Graduation month thoughts

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Thursday, March 20, 2014


IF THE Department of Education (DepEd) won’t follow the lead of schools like De la Salle University, Ateneo de Manila University and the University of the Philippines to move the start of classes from June to August or September, March will continue to generally be a graduation month for Filipino students.

And parents will continue to be busy attending to the needs of their graduating students on this month.

My son Edison Khan will enter junior high school (Grade 7, according to the K to 12 curriculum) when the next school year opens in June. He will formally leave the elementary grades tomorrow in graduation rites at the Augustinian Recollect sisters’ Immaculate Heart of Mary Academy (IHMA) in Minglanilla town.

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Grade 6 is the time when high school scholarships are opened. While IHMA has taught my son well, we still had him take qualifying examinations in two science schools, one in Labangon, Cebu City (Cebu City National Science High School) and the other in Minglanilla (Minglanilla National Science High School). He passed the tests for the latter and is awaiting the result of the former.

I am amazed at how many students--and their parents--take these qualifying examinations seriously. A hopeful crowd is seen annually in these schools, which just means that these are already recognized for giving students quality public school education. Of course, those who can afford to have their kids enroll in private schools don’t bother to go to these institutions.

Before this, my son represented the school in a quiz bowl held at the Basak campus of the University of San Jose-Recoletos (USJR). His teacher told me that this has become a ritual for USJR when the school year ends. The quiz bowl draws in graduating students who are given the chance to see the school’s facilities and the kind of teaching it offers. The question for many parents, though, is affordability.

When I was in Grade 6 at the City Central School (in Cebu City), my teachers were “forced” to allow me to take qualifying exams at Science High, the Cebu School of Arts and Trade (CSAT, now the Cebu Technological University) and Abellana National School.

I say “forced” because my grades were not good at that time. But I was in the top 10 percent of the graduating class being in section one of a school with some 20 sections. The rule was that all section one students were qualified to take those exams.

In the end, I believe I did manage to shock my teachers because I passed all of those tests.

Like father, like son? No, the situation during my time and his time is vastly different. But I would say my son is more qualified than I was when I entered high school because he is more engaged in his elementary education studies than I was in my time. I realized that when we discussed the oral phase of the qualifying exams in Science High.

I dropped out of Science High in the first year of my stint there after our adviser sought me out in our house because of my absences. It was only then that my parents found out that, instead of going to school, I spent my time watching movies in cheap theaters of old Cebu.

I don’t want my son to go through a similar experience when he transitions from elementary to high school, especially when he decides to transfer to a new educational institution and has to adjust to a new surrounding and to a new set of classmates and friends.

More so because the distractions now are worse, with drug addiction the biggest worry.

(khanwens@gmail.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 21, 2014.

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