PARENTS who cannot afford to buy school uniforms for their children can now heave a sigh of relief after a local education executive confirmed on Thursday, August 24, 2023 that students enrolled in public schools will not be required to wear one in the upcoming school year.
Director Salustiano Jimenez of the Department of Education in Central Visayas (DepEd 7) clarified that the wearing of uniforms in public schools will still not be made compulsory.
He said this is to avoid incurring additional costs to the families of learners.
“There are parents who will say ‘We cannot afford to buy a uniform, can you not require it?,’ so if we will impose uniforms, it will be such a pity,” he said in Cebuano.
Jimenez said for parents, particularly those who are cash strapped, letting their children wear uniforms would depend on their capability to buy.
However, a mother of two from Talisay City told SunStar Cebu on Thursday that although it is not required by the DepEd, she will still let her incoming Grade 3 son and incoming Grade 7 daughter wear school uniforms.
“I prefer to see a child wearing a school uniform because aside from looking decent and proper, the kid is recognized as enrolled in that school,” Mariliyn Carten, 35, said in Cebuano.
Earlier, before the opening of classes last school year 2022-2023, Vice President and DepEd Secretary Sara Duterte said in July 2022 that students will not be required to wear uniforms.
Duterte-Carpio cited as reason the additional costs to families amid the continuous rise in the prices of basic commodities in the country.
DepEd Order No. 065 issued in 2010 or the General Guidelines on the Opening of Classes, Including Collection of School Contributions, Enrolment, Student Uniforms and Release of MOOE, says the wearing of school uniforms is not obligatory.
Aside from the non-compulsory wearing of uniforms, Jimenez also made clear that there should be no contributions, in any form, that must be forcefully asked from public schools students. Only a few contributions may be collected, but only on a voluntary basis.
This includes: Boy Scouts of the Philippines (P50), Girl Scouts of the Philippines (P50), Anti-TB Fund Drive (P5), Parent Teacher Association which should be determined by the Board of Directors, school publication (P60 for elementary students and P90 for secondary students), and membership in student organizations which should be based on existing school policies.
Jimenez also declared that there should be no donations asked from students especially if this will add to the parent’s burdens.
He acknowledged that they’re struggling families having a hard time making ends meet, thus “parents and guardians are given the discretion,” Jimenez said.
“What will make it easier for our parents, we will do it. The main priority should be to teach children so that they can learn,” he added in a mix of Cebuano and English.
Jimenez said parents and even the DepEd are still recovering from several crises that had passed including the Covid-19 pandemic and typhoons.
As of Wednesday, August 23, at least 1,488,000 students had been enrolled in public schools across Central Visayas; while only 186,000 were enrolled in private schools in the region.
The DepEd 7 expects a one to two percent rise in the enrollment rate from last school year’s 1.9 million.
For private schools, Jimenez said they expect around 200,000 to 300,000 students to enroll this school year 2023-2024.
Opening of classes
Last Aug. 3, the DepEd Central Office in Manila announced that the opening of classes in all public schools will be on August 29.
Private schools, however, are not required to adhere to the DepEd’s directive.
Under Republic Act (RA) 11480, or “An act amending Section 3 of RA 7797, otherwise known as ‘An act to lengthen the school calendar from 200 days to not more than 220 class days,’” they are allowed to choose to start lessons on the first Monday of June if they like, but they must do it no later than the final day of August this year, according to the DepEd.
Private schools are allowed a one-week leeway before and after classes start and end, so long as they submit their school calendar to DepEd for approval. (KJF)