MANILA, Philippines - A controversial Department of Education memorandum ordering all public elementary school teachers to refrain from giving their students take-home assignments on Fridays is drawing flak from public school educators.
DepEd Memorandum No. 392, signed by Education Secretary Armin Luistro last September 16, advises teachers to limit the giving of homework/assignments "to a reasonable quantity to give their pupils ample time to rest and relax at home for the rest of the day."
"Therefore, no homework/assignments shall be given during weekends for pupils to enjoy their childhood, and spend quality time with their parents without being burdened by the thought of doing lots of homework," the memo states.
Teachers' Dignity Coalition president Benjo Basas said the memorandum is unnecessary and actually violates the academic freedom of educators to give their students the best education possible.
"We know our students' capacity and how long it would take them to finish their homework. It's not to make their lives harder. Homework can be used to teach them self-discipline, time management and how to become responsible students," he said in an ABS-CBN "Umagang kay Ganda" interview.
He said that teachers give more homework on Fridays because students have more time during the weekends. He noted that homework can actually be used by parents to spend more quality time with their kids.
"There are 2 purposes for giving homework. One is to review the past lessons and two is to prepare for the next lesson. It would be a waste if elementary students spend their entire weekend on play and not spend even one hour on study before Monday," he said.
Yolanda Quijano, director of the DepEd Bureau of Elementary Education, said the department passed the order after receiving complaints from some parents that teachers were giving their kids too much homework.
She said the memorandum is part of the DepEd's initiative to create a child-friendly school system that also encourages play and leisure time for kids especially during weekends.
"All we want is that the kids should also enjoy their time during the weekends with their parents without the problem of having too much homework. We are not limiting their time to study. It should actually be a habit. They should study even without any homework," she said.
Quijano said the DepEd wants to test the new system for the next 6 months to see how it will affect the performance of elementary school students.
Basas said the department should qualify the ban on homework on weekends because it could have the opposite effect of giving kids a good education.
"It should be qualified. If [homework] is too long and kids have to work all night to finish it, then parents have every reason to complain," he said.