education in the Philippines

DepEd to lift awards suspension for non-graduating students
DepEd to lift awards suspension for non-graduating students
Justifying the move, DepEd Assistant Secretary for Curriculum and Instruction Alma Torio stresses the importance of giving students recognition especially during the pandemic

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Education (DepEd) is considering lifting the suspension of Academic Excellence Awards for Grades 1 to 12 students and Performance Awards for Kindergarten. This move comes almost after a year of suspending giving out such recognition to non-graduating students.

In a press briefing on Friday, March 18, DepEd Assistant Secretary for Curriculum and Instruction Alma Torio said that the move to reconsider restoring the awards was in consultation with various stakeholders.

“Sa pagsangguni po namin sa mga stakeholders ng DepEd kasama na ‘yung mga magulang, kasama na ‘yung mga school leaders natin at sa mga teachers, minumungkahi po nila na magkaroon din ng recognition sa mga Kindergarten at sa ibang grade levels,” Torio said.

(In our consultations with various DepEd stakeholders, including the students’ parents, school leaders, and teachers, they proposed that recognition should be given to the Kindergarten learners and those from other grade levels.)

“Alam naman po ninyo na malaking bagay rin ang pagbigay ng award, pagbigay ng recognition sa mga ginagawa ng mga mag-aaral natin lalong lalo na ngayong pandemya,” she added.

(You all know that giving awards and recognition to top performing students is important, specially now during a pandemic.)

A year before

The DepEd had drawn criticism from student organizations after it announced the awards suspension through an order dated last May 25, 2021. 

In a Facebook statement released by the National Federation of Supreme Student Government (NFSSG) last June 22, 2021, the group called on DepEd to reconsider the said suspension saying “it is necessary to give due recognition to students’ accomplishments.”

The post read, “the [NFSSG] has received complaints through resolutions, emails, letters, and petitions concerning the Department Order…. there have also been reports of Facebook and Twitter posts calling for the department to reconsider the said order.”

In the ongoing push to amend the said suspension, current NFSSG President Bienesto Junio called DepEd’s amendment a welcome development.

“This is a welcome development for the work we have done from last year to this year towards bringing justice to excellence and recognition to resilience. We have seen the tremendous amount of effort put forth by students amidst the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. We at the NFSSG are constantly striving to help connect our education stakeholders, acting as a conduit of student concerns for the Department of Education,” he said.

The proposed amendment states that Academic Excellence Awards for Grades 1 to 12 and Performance Awards for Kindergarten will be granted at the end of School Year 2021-2022. 

However, classroom, grade-level, and special recognition awards such as leadership awards and recognitions for perfect attendance will remain suspended due to the in-person nature of their evaluation, said Torio.

On March 7, the DepEd said it was optimistic that schools in the country would be able to hold face-to-face graduation rites this year as the pandemic situation continues to improve. However, graduation ceremonies will not be the same as before the pandemic. The agency assured that proper health and safety protocols will be maintained throughout the ceremony.

If the plan pushes through, this would be the first time that students will be able to march with their parents during their graduation since the pandemic began in March 2020. For two academic years, schools were only allowed to hold virtual ceremonies.

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As of March 17, around 9,353 schools are currently holding classes face-to-face. Of these, 8,972 are public schools while 381 are private institutions. There are 60,000 basic education schools in the Philippines. Schools in the country have been using distance learning system since the pandemic began. –  Mark Carlota/ 

Mark Carlota, a Rappler intern, is a first year Political Science major from Ateneo de Manila University. This article was reviewed by a Rappler reporter and a senior editor. Learn more about Rappler’s internship program here.

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