By Merlina Hernando-Malipot
This coming school year, the Department of Education (DepEd) will be more “strict” with the compliance of age requirements for particular grade levels prior to enrollment in both public and private schools.
Education Secretary Leonor Briones, in an earlier interview, said DepEd will be “strict” on the age requirement for incoming pupils – particularly those in the Kindergarten, Grades 1, 7 and 11 who will be covered by the ongoing Early Registration in all public schools nationwide.
“We will be strict on age [requirement],” said Briones when asked about the challenges in the conduct of Early Registration. For the incoming School Year (SY) 2019-2010, DepEd has set January 26 to February 22 to enlist incoming students in select grade levels.
Briones noted that some parents have been “insisting” that their younger children can already go to school – especially in Kindergarten – even if they are not yet of age. As per DepEd “Basic Education Enrollment Policy” or DO No. 3 s. of 2018 only “children aged five years old by August 31 of the school year they will enroll in” are eligible to enroll in Kindergarten.
However, Briones explained that there were still some parents who continued to insist on the school readiness of their children regardless of the age requirement set by DepEd.
She noted that school readiness “is another matter” and mainly depends on “emotional and psychological readiness of the child to be in a class or deal with teachers and fellow classmates.”
School readiness, Briones underscored, did not only depend on the age or the skills of the child. Although children may show signs of brilliance or being “gifted,” she explained that this “child may not necessarily be ready emotionally or psychologically.”
Believing that the “pressure” to enroll to school early comes from the adults, Briones urged the parents to comply with the DepEd’s existing policy.
“Usually pressure comes from the parents,” she explained. “If we don’t regulate that, we will always operate by the rule of exemption,” she added.
Briones noted that there “might be thousands of parents” who feel that “the rule” does not apply to their children “because they are special.” Thus, the DepEd is firm on “setting its foot down” when it comes to age cut off and eligibility of incoming learners.
In 2018, a case was filed on behalf of the affected parents and learners, urging DepEd to repeal the said policy on cut-off age. The parents, as petitioners, claimed 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.”
The DepEd, then, implemented an intervention by asking schools and parents to submit details of the children subject for reconsideration. A review on the cut off age policy was also conducted.
In its basic education policy, DepEd cited that for Grade 1, only “children who have completed Kindergarten programs in DepEd accredited schools and centers” and those who are “six years old and above by August 21 of the school year they will enroll in” are eligible.
Incoming Grade 7 students should be Grade 6 graduates or a passer of Philippine Education and Placement Test (PETP) or Accreditation and Equivalency Test of the Alternative Learning System (ALS) and for Grade 11, they should be Grade 10 completers and also a passer PETP or ALS A&E.