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Digital parenting push in schools hits a snag

By URIEL C. QUILINGUING
Contributing editor .

WHILE digital parenting information campaign of the Department of Information and Communication (DICT) gears toward the regions, partnering this initiative with the Department of Education, at this time, may not deliver the desired results – teachers and parents who can be role models for learners as responsible netizens.

Technical consultant Jose Carlos Reyes of DICT Cybersecurity and Enabling Technologies, during the Digital Parenting Seminar on Tuesday last week in Cagayan de Oro, said they intend to sustain creating public awareness on cybesecurity issues and types of cybercrimes in public and private schools through the guidance counselors.      

Reyes said DICT’s digital parenting seminars, which started Metro Manila last year, came when parents were alarmed by the death of an 11-year old due to the “Momo Challenge”, cyber-bullying, suicides involving students and teachers.

Under Deped’s K to 12 basic education program and the anti-bullying law require the hiring of guidance counselors.

Earlier, Emmanuel Computer Learning Institute president Emmanuel Manansala, who the first to speak in the seminar, warned parents and other participants of a looming health crisis which he described as an internet addiction disorder (IAD), the symptoms of which include anger, depression and emotional numbness.

Mansansala recommended that children aged two to 12 years old must only have one hour every day of screen exposure on digital gadgets—mobile phones, tablet, laptop and personal computer—to protect the child from IAD.

Deped may have taken steps to address these concerns, the conduct of school-based investigations and the issuance of memorandum circulars, but the education department has yet to resolve the legal and administrative bottlenecks in the hiring of guidance counselors.

Education management researcher Nick Pañares of Deped 10, who was one of the reactors in the seminar, said while there are plantilla positions for guidance counselors, yet these are occupied by designated teachers.

“Many, if not all, are not full-time guidance counselors,” said Pañares since there are not enough registered guidance counselors and, if there are, they will not settle for a salary grade equivalent to that of a Teacher I which is P20,179.

He said the proposal is to raise the salary grade to 16, the monthly compensation of which is P31,765 but this has not been resolved for several years now.

Graduates of courses in guidance and counseling, which is offered by some 162 educational institutions nationwide, must have a masters degree before they can take licensure examinations for guidance counselors which the Professional Regulations Commission administers every year.

The masters degree requirement, which is not required for licensure examinations for teachers (LET), before one can take the LEGC has been widely criticized.

But it is provided for under Article IV, Section 27 of Republic Act No. 9268 (Professionalizing the Practice of Guidance and Counseling), after the Philippine Guidance and Counseling Association lobbied for inclusion of the masters degree requirement.

Worse, the lack of licensed guidance counselors is aggravated by low passing percentages in the LEGC, the lowest of which was 41 percent in 2013. As of July 2017, there were 3,220 registered guidance counselors (RGC), including the 1,528 who were licensed under the “grandfather’s clause” of the law.

Those who were granted a license, without taking the examinations, were those who already have a masteral or doctoral degree in  guidance and counseling and at least three years experience doing guidance and counseling work.

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