Carvajal: Wrong good reasons


THOSE in favor of the No-Homework Policy bill, at basic education level, go with the Department of Education’s position that it allows students “to find balance between their academic development and personal growth by having ample time for enjoyable activities with the family.”

Meanwhile, the antis adhere to one educator-columnist’s line that government has no business “legislating something that falls under pedagogy, or teaching methods, and classroom management that should be left to the authority of teachers and the schools.”

They are both good reasons for respectively supporting and opposing the bill except that neither holistic education nor pedagogy is the point at issue. The issue in the Philippine social context is equal opportunity.

Homework is unfair to the children of poor parents. These get poor grades in homework because when they get home they have to do their share of household chores. Many of them even have to help their parents with the nitty-gritty of earning a living.

Children of the rich, on the other hand, can just dive into their homework because they have helpers to do household chores and they don’t have to help their parents earn a living.

Moreover, children of the rich have air conditioned well-lighted rooms to do their homework in while children of the poor have to fight distraction and eye-strain when doing homework in their congested ill-lit one-room-affair houses.

Also, parents of rich children are often well educated and can help their children with homework. If they are too busy they can hire private tutors to help their children with other subjects and not just homework.

But parents of poor children generally have low educational attainment and cannot help their children with homework. Barely making ends meet, they cannot afford to pay the services of private tutors. The balancing of academic development with ample time to enjoy family activities that a no-homework policy would promote is really only for the rich. There’s nothing enjoyable for children of the poor to go home from school and plunge themselves into the basics of survival.

Government may not legislate pedagogy but it can, and must, legislate equality of learning opportunities. And the central fact is that children of the poor simply cannot do well with homework for poverty-related issues. Again, holistic learning and government non-interference in pedagogical issues are good reasons for supporting or opposing the No-Homework Policy bill. But they are the wrong good reasons.

The right good and fundamental reason for a no-homework policy is to ensure equal learning opportunity. We need to level the studying field for both the children of the rich and the children of the poor.


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