The Department of Education (DepEd) stands firm with its commitment to promote and provide a safe and free-from-fear learning environment for all learners in both public and private schools nationwide.
In view of the opening of School Year (SY) 2017-2018 and with the transfer of displaced learners from Marawi, DepEd iterates its zero tolerance policy against any act of child abuse, exploitation, violence, discrimination, bullying, and other forms of mistreatment, which may affect the normal development of learners.
Child Protection Committee
To ensure that cases and instances of abuse are closely monitored at school level, DepEd issued the DepEd Order No. 40, series of 2012, or the DepEd Child Protection Policy, which requires all elementary and secondary schools—both public and private—to create their own Child Protection Committee (CPC).
In a press briefing, Education Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones said, “Ang Child Protection Policy natin, mandato yan ng United Nations, mandato yan ng ating pamahalaan na lahat ng bata ay kailangang i-protect from bullying. Yun ang pinagbabasehan ng ating policy. So at the level of the school, merong Child Protection Committee.”
The CPC is composed of the following: 1) School Head/Administrator as Chairperson; 2) Guidance Counselor/Teacher as Vice Chairperson; 3) Representatives of the teachers as designated by the Faculty Club; 4) Representative of the parents as designated by the Parents-Teachers Association (PTA); 5) Representative of learners as designated by the Supreme Student Council; and 6) Representative from the community as designated by the Punong Barangay, preferably a member of the Barangay Council for the Protection of Children (BCPC).
Undersecretary Jesus Mateo further explained, “Yung Child Protection Committee, hindi lang po DepEd ito, kasama po rito yung local community. Kung may nangyari, ang ginagawa diyan ay paghaharapin yung sinasabing nang-bully at na-bully, kasama ng kanilang mga magulang para mapag-usapan yun. At depende yan dun sa gravity ng bullying.”
Some of the roles of the CPC are: to ensure that learners are following a certain Code of Conduct in schools and that schools have their localized Child Protection Policy; to develop and implement a school-based referral and monitoring system of cases of all forms of abuse and bullying; and to identify, refer, and report cases of child abuse, exploitation, violence, discrimination, and bullying to the appropriate offices if needed, among others.
Moreover, DepEd released the DepEd Order No. 55, s. 2013, or the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of Republic Act (RA) No. 10627, otherwise known as The Anti-Bullying Act of 2013, which further provides clearer rules on bullying and cyber-bullying. This was recently reiterated through DepEd Memorandum No. 5, s. 2017, or the Reiteration of the Department of Education Anti-Bullying Policy.
Displaced Marawi learners protected from harm
The ongoing battle between the military and lawless elements in Marawi City forced Marawi learners to transfer schools—schools far away from their region that possibly have different beliefs and customs that could make them more prone to bullying.
Briones assured that these Marawi learners will be protected from harm, particularly from bullying, “Nasabihan ko na yung mga Regional Directors na kailangan, i-brief nila yung mga teachers under their jurisdiction about the anti-bullying policy, where we have very strict sanctions.”
Briones mentioned that there was a proposal of creating separate classes for displaced Marawi learners to protect them from bullying but the Education Secretary pressed that it will just further promote discrimination and create misunderstanding between the local learners and the displaced Marawi learners.
“As early as possible, i-integrate talaga sila [displaced Marawi learners] sa regular classes,” Briones added.
DepEd’s call to learners, parents, teachers and public
Furthermore, DepEd encourages learners, parents, teachers, and other stakeholders to refrain from engaging in discriminatory acts against people’s opinion, status, gender, ethnicity, religion, as well as their moral and physical integrity.
DepEd also prohibits the use of corporal punishment or any kind of punishment imposed for an alleged or actual offense, which is carried out by a teacher, school administrator, an adult, or any other child who has been given or has assumed authority or responsibility for punishment or discipline.
Briones mentioned that an administrative case shall be filed against DepEd officials who will neglect his or her duty in providing a safe and free–from-fear learning environment for learners, “Tinitingnan natin yan, halimbawa, nagpabaya ang authorities, then at the level of the Central Office, or the Regional Director, we take actions. Administrative case yan.”
“We keep on reminding our teachers, as well as students na wala na tayo sa dark ages na might is always right,” Briones pointed out.