Education sector divided on ‘no homework’ bills
Janvic Mateo (The Philippine Star) - August 29, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Education stakeholders are divided on the proposed legislation that would prohibit teachers from giving homework to their students.

The Department of Education (DepEd) has welcomed the bills filed at the House of Representatives, noting that homework deprives children of the opportunity to bond with their families and friends.

“I am in favor of this bill… We made this a policy, but there are schools that are used to giving homeworks, so maybe, that is why there is a proposed law,” Education Secretary Leonor Briones said in a mix of English and Filipino in an interview with radio station dzMM on Tuesday.

“We have a policy discouraging homework. We know that sometimes, it is not the children who do their homework at home,” Briones added.

For the education chief, formal education, including working on assignments and projects, should be finished in school. 

“There are those who are studious, who want to study on their own, but we don’t need homework because these will be additional burden,” she said.

Groups oppose bills

Several groups, however, have expressed concern over the proposal.

Teachers’ Dignity Coalition chairman Benjo Basas noted the proposed legislation’s impact on academic freedom.

“It seems that the legislature assumes the tasks and functions of the DepEd and its teachers – curtailing our right to academic freedom. Our teachers are trained educators, we know the value of homework,” Basas said.

“More than academics, (doing) homework teaches discipline, responsibility, continuity of learning and even time management. It may also strengthen family bonding, thus providing quality time for them with their parents and siblings. Homework is not intended to make life difficult for our students,” he added.

Basas also questioned a provision in one of the proposed bills that would penalize teachers who would violate the measure.

House Bill (HB) 3883, filed by Quezon City Rep. Alfred Vargas, seeks to ban homework for elementary and secondary students during weekends. It imposes a penalty of up to P50,000 or up to two years in prison for those who would violate its provisions Vargas has withdrawn the penalty provision, attributing it to a clerical filing error. 

Another proposal, HB 3611 filed by Sorsogon Rep. and Deputy Speaker Evelina Escudero, seeks to ban homework altogether, although it does not contain a penalty clause for violators.

Federation of Associations of Private School Administrators president Eleazardo Kasilag stressed that homework is vital to ensure that the flow of lessons is sustained.

“Ban of lessons to give more time to anything non-academic is contrary to the vision of education,” Kasilag said.

“Our students still do not have the innate discipline. We should ban what hinders them from studying like social media, untimely malling or computer games,” he added. 

‘Impossible with K-12’

Meanwhile, the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) said a “no homework” policy is impossible under the K-12 curriculum.

“K-12 was an experiment that tried to integrate a little bit of everything in a complicated manner, while leaving no ample time for mastery of subjects and development of critical thinking,” ACT chairperson Jocelyn Martinez said.

“Further, the range of topics and competencies set by the K-12 curriculum is impossible to cover within formal class hours, resulting in added and beyond-school hour work for both teachers and students,” Martinez added.

Martinez noted that K-12 follows an outcomes-based education framework, where students’ learning is measured by their outputs. 

This, she said, demands that students produce several and varied forms of outputs for the assigned topic of the day.

The DepEd already has an existing policy against giving homework to public school students during weekends.

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