Parents urge DepEd to intensify watch on illegal schools in Region 11

DAVAO CITY(MindaNews/15 November)—Parents of students from a private school here that was ordered closed last June for operating without a permit since 1996 demanded Wednesday that government should intensify its monitoring of illegal schools in the city.


At the city council’s committee hearing, Chona Linda Mante, whose child finished Grades One to Four at the Good Shepherd Learning School in Toril District, asked the representatives of the Department of Education (DepEd) Region 11 if they were able to monitor all illegal schools in the city.


Dr. Alma Cifra, DepEd-11 private school division supervisor, said they exerted “all means” in tracking illegal schools in the city, “which is too big for the regional office to cover.”


Last December, the DepEd-11, along with the City Social Service and Development Office, asked the help of the Liga ng mga Barangay (League of Barangays) to list the schools operating in their villages without permit, Cifra said.


The Good Shepherd Learning School had not been mentioned in the villages’ lists, she added.


But following an ocular inspection and evaluation last May 15, the DepEd-11 had advised the school “to refrain from enrolling students,” Cifra said.


Danilo Canda, DepEd-11 supervisor in Davao del Sur, said “all private schools are aware” of the manual of regulations for their operations, which states that they cannot accept enrollees with or without fees until they secure a government permit.


He cited that in a meeting three weeks ago, DepEd-11 regional director Gloria Benigno ordered the school division superintendents to require all principals to report illegal schools in the village where they are assigned.


The DepEd representatives said they will provide the city council with a copy of the list of illegal schools as soon as all superintendents will have submitted their lists to the regional office.


Mante, the parent, suggested for the DepEd-11 to put a sign that says the school cannot accept enrollees anymore because it has no permit.


She complained that this school year, she enrolled her child twice, first at the Good Shepherd because it continued to accept students without telling the parents of its status, and second, in a public school.


The DepEd representatives considered the parents’ request. However, they said their office has no police power to padlock the schools but can only remind them to secure a permit from the government, otherwise they will be advised to stop accepting students.


Councilor Leah Librado Yap, chair of the committee on education, science and technology, and culture and arts, initiated the hearing after receiving complaints from parents against the Good Shepherd Learning School.


The school’s administrator, Pastor Bert Digaum, did not respond to the committee’s invitation.


Yap urged the parents to write a petition to DepEd Secretary Armin A. Luistro because their concerns are apparently legitimate.


Lawyer Leo Gillesania, Jr., president of the Davao Association of Private Schools and Administrators (DAPRISA), proposed during the hearing the crafting of an ordinance that will require all private schools to post their government permit number at the school gate and in school cards.


He added that there should be a penalty or imprisonment for school owners who would violate the proposed policy.


Gillesania admitted having difficulty in identifying legitimate private schools applying for DAPRISA membership, noting the outdated DepEd’s list of registered schools. (Lorie Ann A. Cascaro/MindaNews)