By INA HERNANDO-MALIPOT
(Prohibition also covers computer shops, cinemas)
The Department of Education (DepEd) is now prohibiting all students of public and private elementary and secondary schools from going to computer shops, malls, theaters, and other similar establishments during class hours.
To carry out the ban effectively, Education Secretary Mona Valisno said school officials and teachers concerned should communicate and coordinate with their respective local government officials so that both parties could work on a possible enactment or implementation of the appropriate legislation to implement this.
“These legislations may be in the form of regulating the distance of computer shops, malls, theaters and the likes from schools,” she said.
The directive may also be sent to the owners of these establishments not to allow entry of students during their respective class hours. “The LGUs can ask the owners of these shops and malls to check first the class schedules of the student trying to enter the establishment,” she said.
Valisno said schools should accordingly provide their students with certified copies of their respective class schedules.
She said going to these establishments has adverse effects on students. “We are aware of the prevailing situation that there are students in the elementary and secondary levels from public and private schools who go to computer shops, malls, theaters, and the likes during their class hours while in their school uniforms,” she said.
Thus, the Department issued DepEd Order No. 86, s. 2010 on June 18 which directed all school officials and employees concerned to institute and implement the necessary mechanism on the school discipline applicable under the situation. “They should monitor closely those students who are absent or cut class often,” said Valisno.
When it comes to the school discipline to be imposed, Valisno explained that this should primarily focus on guidance counseling of the students involved. “The principals or the teachers should have a dialogue with the parents of the students or even with their guardians to address the problem,” added Valisno.
Valisno also urged the school officials and teachers to provide their students with worthwhile and productive activities. “These activities particularly those that can enhance the creative and communicative skills can be done during the free time of the students in school,” she said.
School heads and teachers can encourage their students to join in activities that could improve their communicative skills such as debate or their creative skills such as dramatic activities and theatrical programs.
Reports to DepEd reveal that many students cut their classes and spend time playing online games, visiting various social networking sites such as Friendster and Facebook and some even are sneaking to visit pornographic sites in computer and Internet shops.
To address this concern, DepEd will also be deploying monitoring teams to watch Internet shops for class-cutting pupils. “We already ordered a tighter watch on Internet cafés, particularly those in school zones, during class hours,” she explained.
Valisno admitted that since DepEd cannot address this problem alone, cooperation between school officials, LGU officers, and parents is a must. “We also appeal to owners of Internet cafés not to allow students – especially those still in uniform – to spend time in their establishments, especially during class hours,” she said.
Nationwide, many LGUs are implementing ordinances that regulate Internet shops that allow students to enter their premises. In Makati for instance, the local government has already warned owners of computer shops of possible closure if they would not comply with the DepEd order and city ordinance.
For Maribeth Cortes, parent to first year high school student Vince, this is very important since parents like her cannot monitor the activities of her child when he is in school. “I think construction of computer shops should not even be allowed near school premises because these only tempt the students to go there instead of attending their classes,” she explained in Filipino.
Valisno said that school heads and teachers should also be responsible in monitoring the activities of their students. “They should always remind their students not to go to these computer shops during class hours and should call the attention of the parents of the child if the he or she cuts class very often,” she ended.