The head of Cagayan de Oro’s public schools division ordered teaching materials reviewed and a local legislator called on two city council committees to start an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the suicide of an 8th grader blamed on his distance-learning difficulties.
Councilor George Goking on Wednesday, October 27, urged the city council’s education and health committees to determine if the student’s learning conditions factored in the suicide.
Authorities have ruled out foul play in the death of the boy in a room in Barangay Consolacion on Monday afternoon, October 25.
The boy’s mother said she could not think of any reason why her son would take his own life except he complained about how he found it very difficult to complete his take-home assignment from his school. The boy also threatened to “burn the module” shortly before taking his own life.
“It’s very alarming,” city schools division superintendent Cherry Mae Limbaco told Magnum Radio on Wednesday morning.
Limbaco ordered a review of the teaching materials and instructed public school teachers in the city to do what they can to help schoolchildren with distance-learning difficulties.
Councilor Goking said the incident should serve as a wake-up call, and make the Department of Education consider how changes in the learning environment in relation to the pandemic have taken a toll on the mental health of schoolchildren.
“There have been several incidents like this already, and the distance-learning pressures could be aggravating the situation as far as our children are concerned. Perhaps it’s time for the DepEd to review the modules and see if fine-tunings are needed,” Goking said.
Limbaco said the pupil did quite well and even completed five modules already. The student was supposed to submit the sixth module on science this week.
The modules, she said, were based on the most essential learning competency levels of students and were written by teachers with years of experience. with the teaching materials having undergone a series of validation procedures.
Mental health considerations and psychosocial activities were also incorporated in the distance-learning program, according to Limbaco.
Councilor Suzette Magtajas-Daba, the chairperson of the city council’s education committee, said she would discuss the concern with the city’s education officials and councilor Ma. Lourdes Gaane, chairperson of the city council’s health committee.
But she said that while the local government can work together with the local schools division to see if the modules could be improved and made friendlier to students, the final say would still come from Education Secretary Leonor Briones.
“They are under the supervision of Secretary Briones, and not the local government unit. The LGU cannot dictate them,” Magtajas-Daba said.
The city government stepped up its mental health program in May due to the rise in the number of suicide cases in the city which was blamed on stress affecting families from the COVID-19 pandemic. –Rappler.com
The Department of Health, through the National Center for Mental Health, has a national crisis hotline to assist people with mental health concerns. The hotline can be reached at 1553, which is a Luzon-wide, toll-free landline number, 0917-899-8727 and 0966-351-4518 for Globe and TM subscribers, and 0908-639-2672 for Smart subscribers.