By Merlina Hernando-Malipot
Parents of children affected by the cut off age for enrollment are urging the Department of Education (DepEd) to act on the temporary restraining order (TRO) issued to stop the immediate implementation of the said policy.
Parents of learners adversely affected by the entrant age for kindergarten and Grade 1 are calling on DepEd to instruct the concerned schools to accept enrollees following the issuance of a court order enjoining the Department from immediately implementing a memorandum stating a cut-off age for kindergarten learners.
The DepEd Memo provides a cut-off month of June 1 to August 31 for a learner to turn five years old in order to be admitted in the Kindergarten program.
Lawyer Atty. Joseph Noel Estrada said that many parents of learners in private schools are worried that their children – who are below the cutoff age prescribed by DepEd – would not be able to proceed to the next grade level.
The parents, as petitioners, claim that the said DepEd policy “indubitably cause grave and irreparable injury to them as it unjustly infringes upon their clear and unmistakable right to rear their children and direct their education.”
They also claim that the said DepEd memo might force some learners “to stop schooling just because their birth months fall after Aug. 31 even though they have demonstrated the competence expected of a kindergarten student, causing them serious psychological and emotional stress in seeing their peers move up a level while they remain stuck in the same level.”
Acting on this case, a three-day (72-hour) TRO was issued by Executive Judge Danilo Cruz in Pasig City. In a separate court order dated April 6 issued by Presiding Judge Divina Gracia Pelino, the TRO was extended until April 23, 2018.
The TRO states that the petitioners need to post a bond “that would answer for whatever damage that the respondents may suffer as a result of the extension of the TRO.” Also, a preliminary injunction was scheduled on April 18, 2018.
Meanwhile, the DepEd on Wednesday assured that it will “comply with any court order” given that the conditions that were stated in the said order have been satisfied.
“There is no doubt that DepEd will comply with any order issued by the court subject to the conditions specified in that order,” said DepEd Undersecretary Tonitisito Umali in a phone interview with the Manila Bulletin.
Earlier, Estrada said that some parents of Kindergarten pupils who currently enrolled in the private schools are complaining that their children might be “at risk of repeating Kinder and disqualified to move to Grade 1 this June 2018 just because they are deficient in months from DepEd cut-off.”
As per DepEd Order No. 47 series of 2016 or the “Omnibus Policy on Kindergarten Education” issued by former Secretary Armin Luistro, the “age qualification for kindergarten learners in public schools should be five (5) years old by June 1 of every school year” while those who are eligible for Grade 1 are “children who are six years old and above.
However, private schools are given wide latitude in adopting and building their own curriculum. Thus, DepEd earlier said that “reliable forms of assessment may be performed by the school to ensure that the learner is capable to meet the expectations of the next grade level.”