MANDATORY contributions, both monetary and in-kind, for Christmas party celebrations in public schools are strictly prohibited, an education executive said.
Salustiano Jimenez, director of the Department of Education in Central Visayas (DepEd 7), has reminded everyone that contributions for school parties should be voluntary and not compulsory.
He urged teachers to take into account the economic situations of students, as some parents might not be able to contribute extra from their pockets.
"We are aware of the difficulties now. If possible, we still celebrate in a meaningful but not overly lavish way, as some may be unable to attend, and it avoids unnecessary expenses," Jimenez told SunStar Cebu on Wednesday, December 13, 2023.
Salustiano also sai that the Christmas season is the perfect time for teachers to bring joy to their students by covering, if not all, at least some of the expenses.
While sharing his past experiences from his time teaching in public schools, the director suggested that teachers can contribute by preparing dishes such as spaghetti and providing party giveaways for their students.
He said that no student would be barred from participating in the Christmas school parties due to a lack of voluntary contribution or the absence of a prepared gift.
"How would the child feel? Christmas is [about] giving, sharing, and forgiving. To turn it into a situation of discrimination goes against the essence of the season, and [it] is not right," he said.
He added that teachers should help students learn and understand the true essence of the celebration, which is to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ.
"It is not right that during Christmas parties, a student would cry because he or she is not allowed to join for not bringing any contributions," he added.
Last year, Vice President Sara Duterte, who concurrently served as education secretary, released Department Order No. 52, emphasizing that "celebrations in schools and DepEd offices, as far as practicable, should be simple yet meaningful."
Other guidelines mentioned in the order are the following:
• Learners should not be excluded from attending the Christmas party if they do not contribute voluntarily or bring a prepared gift.
• Rather than excessive spending, gift-giving should be guided by a spirit of sharing.
• No DepEd learner or personnel should be forced to contribute, participate, or use their money for the celebration.
• Old Christmas decorations should be recycled, purchase of new decorations is not encouraged.
• Contributions for school or office celebrations, whether in cash or kind, should be strictly voluntary.
• DepEd employees should be reminded that solicitations for Christmas parties or holiday celebrations, whether in cash or kind, are not allowed.
Private schools, community learning centers, as well as state and local universities and colleges, have the option to adopt these provisions for their events and celebrations, the agency said. (KJF)