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Let us avoid knee-jerk reactions to the BestLink College field trip tragedy

Last Monday, fifteen students of Bestlink College of the Philippines (BCP) were killed following a bus accident in Tanay, Rizal. The brakes of the bus carrying the students reportedly malfunctioned while it was traversing the so-called Magnetic Hill in Tanay, Rizal, leading to the fatal crash. They were supposed to stay in the area for several days of medical and survival training as a requirement for their National Service Training Program (NSTP) class.

Naturally, there are calls  again to ban the conduct of field trips and educational tours for all levels nationwide. That would be wrong and unfortunate. But before we discuss why, first things first.

At present, the Department of Education and the Commission on Higher Education are already implementing strict guidelines about the conduct of field trips and educational tours.

1) Only places that have scientific, cultural, and historical value must be visited
2) Participating in such should only be an incentive, but not a requirement.
3) Parental consent is a must
4) The cost should be as minimal as possible
5) Approval from the institution head is necessary

I’ve been teaching for the past five years now, and I know how tough it is to seek permission from school administrators regarding out-of-school activities.

bestlink college bus tragedy

About 15 students of Bestlink College-Quezon City was killed during a bus crash in Tanay, Rizal last February 20 (Credits: Philippine News Agency Twitter account)

For example, college professors who would like to organize a block watching of theater plays outside campus will have to seek permission not just from their respective deans but from higher school officials as well. And, more often than not, it will be approved belatedly if not downright rejected.

That frustrates me because educational tours can really supplement classroom discussions. During my Rizal class in UPD, for instance, we had a two-day trip to Mount Banahaw to visit Rizalist sects there.

My point is, while the death of 15 students from Best Link College is really horrifying, we should avoid knee-jerk reactions like calling for the ban of all educational tours. That will be totally unfortunate because, after all, such activities do serve a purpose.

What needs to happen instead is for DepEd, CHED, and school administrations to enforce stricter implementation of the current protocols governing fied trips.

For instance, they should be very careful in choosing the bus companies they will do business with. Have we already forgotten that just a few years ago, several buses companies became involved in fatal accidents triggered by poor maintenance?

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