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Levity aside

Uriel Quilinguing .

AT this time, the country’s education department would remind public and private schools that austerity measures must be observed in the conduct of end-of-school-year rites. This is not only a timely reminder for school officials and teachers and enterprising individuals who may exploit these once-in-a-lifetime events but also in inculcating proper values among the learners and parents. Frugality, however, should not include the use of appropriate nomenclatures in the granting of recognitions and awards just for the introduction of something new—that indeed, change has come.

Prior to the K to 12 basic education program, learners who completed the requirements for nursery, kindergarten, elementary and secondary levels of education would receive diplomas during the commencement exercises which many used to call graduation ceremonies.

Department of Education Order No. 2, which Education Secretary Leonor M. Briones issued on Feb. 18, 2019, changed these: There is only one graduation ceremony. And that is only for those in Grade 12 of Senior High School. All the rest, those who successfully completed their studies in Grade 10, Grade 6, and Kindergarten will have either Moving Up or Completion programs where they will receive certificates of completion.

What is the difference then between a diploma and a certificate?

By definitions a diploma is a certificate which an educational establishment award to someone who has successfully completed a course of study while a certificate is an official document attesting to a certain fact.

If I have my way, I would prefer a “diploma certificate” for completers in Kindegarten, Grade 6 in elementary, and Grade 10 in Junior High School. Thirteen years is a long-term goal for one to set a goal and to fulfill a dream— an academic diploma.

Aside from this, Deped Order 36 that was released in June 2016, spelled out the new guidelines for recognitions and awards for completers under the K to 12 program.

Under Deped Order 36 that was issued in June 2016, it recommended that those who excel in academics are to be recognized with “With Highest Honor/May Pinakamataas na Karangalan,” “With High Honors/May Mataas na Karangalan,” and “With Honors/May Karangalan.” Levity aside, all the others, not among the three mentioned, may be classified as “With No Honors/Walang Karangalan.” I hope Deped’s experts in English and Filipino languages can find a way and adopt not-so discriminating phrases for academic performance distinctions.

As a consequence, the days for valedictory addresses to be delivered are gone; any one can be chosen from the cream-of-the-crop, and then deliver a prepared speech on behalf of the graduates. Detailed academic ranking doesn’t matter anymore, hence valedictorian and salutatorian will soon be archaic words. 

When it comes to the manner on the conduct of graduation rites, DepEd is on the right direction in advising schools, learners and parents that “graduation rites should be simple but meaningful” even as the agency admitted “these mark a milestone in the life of the learners.” These, however, “should be conducted without excessive spending, extravagant attire, or extraordinary venue.”

The descriptive words “excessive,” “extravagant,” and “extraordinary,” however, must explained thoroughly because these require measurement standards, notwithstanding the location and the existing facilities and amenities of the school. While there are schools in Cagayan de Oro that can hold their end-of-the-year ceremonies for completers in their respective campuses, there are also many public and private schools, due to lack or absence of facilities, utilize and pay for the use of air-conditioned function halls in malls and hotels.

Cagayan de Oro-based Misamis Oriental General Comprehensive High School is the best example for this since it is among the country’s biggest secondary schools with a population of more than 12,000. Grade 10 students alone could reach 3,000 in any school-year in recent years, hence a spacious Atrium of the Limketkai Center would be needed for Moving Up ceremonies since attendance could reach 6,000 once their parents are with the completers. If the school has to comply with the DepEd Order, it might as well use the main grandstand of the Don Gregorio Pelaez Sports Center since the school will only have to pay only for electricity and janitorial services, chargeable to the Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE).

Moreover, DepEd personnel, under this DepEd Order No. 2 and all previous issuances which spell out guidelines on graduation ceremonies, are prohibited from collecting any kind of contribution or fee from the learners and parents for whatever purpose it may be. I doubt, however, if this is being complied with to the letter since some parents may turn out to be voluntary donors.

If there are parents and other aggrieved parties who are willing to file formal complaints to DepEd, investigations could proceed. But, bereft of sanctions and penalties for violators, DepEd Order No. 2, series of 2019 could end up just in paper until it is revised for next school year. 

(Uriel C. Quilinguing is a former president of the Cagayan de Oro Press Club and editor-in-chief of this paper. For comments and reactions, e-mail them to uriel_quilinguing@yahoo.com)

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