Lawmaker hits DepEd’s use of compulsory home-study program to decongest schools

PARTY-LIST Rep. Antonio Tinio of Act Teachers has scored the Department of Education (DepEd) for compelling students to take the Home Study Program (HSP) to decongest public high schools in urban areas.

“We question the DepEd’s use of the HSP as a so-called Alternative Delivery Mode [ADM] to decongest overcrowded public high schools,” said Tinio.

”According to our investigation, students are pre-selected by school officials and compelled to enroll in the HSP. This is discriminatory and deprives those students of the benefits of daily schooling in the classroom,” he stressed.

Under the HSP, students are no longer required to attend classes from Monday to Friday. Instead, they are given modules to work on at home and meet with a teacher once a week for monitoring and testing.

Tinio noted that the HSP is primarily intended to serve the needs of working students or those with special needs, for whom daily schooling is impractical.

“HSP should be an option voluntarily chosen by students and parents. The DepEd is misusing it to ease overcrowding, which means that schools are compelling students to enroll in HSP, even if they are willing and able to attend regular classes,” he said.

To meet its 1:55 teacher-student ratio, the DepEd ordered all principals to use ADM to serve those declared as excess students. One such decongestion is through HSP, a measure described by the DepEd Assistant Secretary Jesus Mateo as an “out-of-the-box solution” to the classroom shortage,

The division of Quezon City has been the most aggressive in implementing the HSP, with 10,000 students enrolled last school year.

At the Batasan Hills National High School (BHNHS), one of the schools expected to exceed enrollment capacity, over 2,000 students, or 15 percent, of its anticipated enrolment will be forced out of their regular classes this year.

“Which students get to attend regular classes and which ones will do home study? Who decides? We were told that public-school administrators have to make the call. Overaged children, low achievers or repeaters, those with disciplinary problems, along with working students, are the ones who are chosen for HSP. They are told that the school will only accept them if they enroll in the HSP. That’s how public-school heads, under pressure from their superiors, have been able to come up with such high numbers of enrollees in HSP,” explained Tinio.

“In short, the government turns away from formal schooling those who need most the direct support and interaction with teachers and peers that can only be provided in the classroom setting,” he argued.

“By misusing HSP as a desperate decongestion tool, the DepEd is violating the right of children to quality education. The DepEd must put an end to the compulsory enrollment of children in HSP,” said Tinio. “Hindi puwedeng sapilitan.”

“Regular and adequate investment in public-school infrastructure remains to be the best and most decisive way of easing bloated class sizes,” Tinio argued.

“If the Aquino administration could fund 61,510 teacher items to reduce the teacher shortage, it should also make a huge investment for classrooms and school buildings,” he asserted.

Based on figures from DepEd, there will be a shortage of at least 32,844 classrooms when schools open on Monday’s school opening.