DepEd postpones the NCAE for the third time

Confusion reigns in public and private high schools around the county as the Department of Education (DepEd) decided to indefinitely postpone the National Career Assessment Examination or NCAE for the third time this school year.

It is supposed to be conducted this March 1 and 2. Because of this development, high school students will have regular classes on those two days instead.

Grade 9 students (formerly referred to as third year high school students) nationwide are required to take the NCAE to determine their aptitude and occupational interests in preparation for senior high school (SHS).

batasan hills national high school SHS

DepEd postpones indefinitely the National Career Assessment Examination at the last-minute (Credits: EPA)

Upon reaching SHS, they will be asked to choose among different tracks such as accountancy, business, and management (ABM), humanities and social sciences (HUMSS), science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), and technical-vocational-livelhood (TVL).

The NCAE was originally scheduled for August 30 and 31, 2016 before it was moved to December 7 and 8. The March schedule was announced earlier this month.

This announcement comes a week after DepEd also indefinitely postponed the conduct of the annual National Achievement Test for Grade 6 and 10 students. With only three weeks to go before the fourth periodical test, it is not possible that both NCAE and NAT will not happen at all.


LIFE AFTER DEFEAT | Former VP Binay to be University of Makati law dean?

Almost a year after his embarassing defeat in the 2016 presidential race, former Vice President Jejomar Binay is likely to have a new job soon: a law school dean.

Photos of Binay visiting the University of Makati (UMak) went viral on social media the past few days. According to the posts, Binay will serve as the dean of the University’s College of Law.

Thomas Lopez, the current president of UMak, eventually clarified through a statement that the creation of a College of Law for UMak is still under deliberation but the Board of Regents have already offered Binay the position of dean.

jejomar binay univesity of makati

Former Vice President Jejomar Binay is set to be the dean of the University of Makati School of Law once it is established formally

“The University of Makati is currently organizing to establish its law degree program and plans to submit the application requirements for evaluation to the Legal Education Board,” Lopez explained.

“The Board of Regents of the University has expressed to former Vice President Jejomar Binay its intention to invite him to be the dean of the UMak School of Law after our initial deliberation on the possible management of the law school,” Lopez added.

UMak is a public, locally funded city university. The city’s current mayor, Abigail, is Binay’s daughter. She is the fourth member of her family to serve as the city mayor, following the footsteps of her father, mother, and brother.

The elder Binay, now 74, was initially regarded as the frontrunner in the 2016 presidential elections. However, persistent allegations of corruptions dogged him throughout the campaign and he was never able to adequately fight back.  Ironically, one of the claims against him is that he pocketed millions in a deal between UMak and STI Holdings. He eventually finished second to the last in the five-way race.


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?


2017 Graduation Theme: “Sabay-sabay na Hakbang Tungo sa Maunlad na Kinabukasan”

With the current school year entering its final four weeks, the Department of Education (DepEd) has already released the official theme to be used for the 2017 nursery, kindergarten, elementary, and high school graduation ceremonies nationwide. It is “Sabay-sabay na hakbang tungo sa magandang kinabukasan.”

In a department order dated February 17, Education Secretary Leonor Briones explained that the theme “highlights the importance of the concerted endeavor and collective efforts of the stakeholders and learners in achieving the shared vision of quality, accessible, relevant, and liberating basic education for all.”

“It also emphasizes the the significance of unity in forging a better and progressive future for the Filipino youth,” she added.

The order mandates that graduation ceremonies should be held on or before April 7, 2016. Meanwhile, school divisions or regions whose school years had been extended because of class suspensions will have to be guided by their approved revised school calendar.

DepEd 2017 graduation theme

The graduation theme for 2017 according to DepEd is “Sabay-sabay na hakbang tungo sa maunlad na kinabukasan”

Just like her predecessors, Briones underscored that the ceremonies must be observed with austerity and simplicity. “While these rites mark a milestone in the life of the learners, these should be conducted without excessive spending, extravagant attire, or extraordinary venue,” she said.

In relation to that, she likewise warned school administrators and teachers against including non-academic projects such as attendance to field trips, film showing, junior-senior promenade and other school events as requirements for graduation or completion.

And perhaps taking into account the polarized nature of the Philippine society at present, Briones appealed to everyone not use the graduation rites for political discourse. “The ceremonies should be conducted in an appropriate solemn ceremony befitting the graduating pupils and students and their parents,” he explained.


Former Philippine ambassador quits university post over sexual assault charge

Reynaldo Arcilla, a retired diplomat under the Department of Foreign Affairs, has abruptly resigned as dean of the Lyceum of the Philippines University-Manila’s College of International Relations (LPU Manila-CIR) because of a sexual assault charge raised by one of the school’s graduates.

In a series of posts on her Facebook account, Khayvie Rojas narrated how Arcilla made unwanted sexual advances the night of December 2 when she asked him for a recommendation letter in connection to her application for graduate school.

Rojas said that she and Arcilla initially had a good conversation inside the latter’s LPU office, with the two of them discussing various topics including her career plans. Their conversation went on until around 7PM when the retired ambassador said he wanted to go home already. That’s when things took a turn for the worse:

ambassador reynaldo arcilla

Retired DFA ambassador Reynaldo Arcilla has quit his position as dean of Lyceum Manila’s College of International Relations (Credits:

We talked for more or less 30 minutes. He stood up and he said he is going home. He asked me if I’m also heading home and where. He said he could drop me off near my place, I agreed to be drop off at Coastal.

We went down the stairs and he went inside the clinic, we saw the guard at Gate 2, he held my elbow and said “Dito kita rarape-pin”. I gave him a quizzical look and said, “Sir?.” Medyo kinabahan na ako nun pero nung nakita ko may tao naman sa loob, naging okay naman ako.

We were alone inside the car. He suddenly said, “You really turn me on”, I was in complete shock and was not able to say anything. He tried to grab my face and said “Pa-kiss nga”, I refused. The driver came in. I was already scared but I thought the Dean will not do any inappropriate behaviour in front of his driver. We’re finally outside Lyceum. The Dean grabbed my hand and said, “Bakit ang lamig ng kamay mo, kinakabahan ka sa akin noh?”, I said “No, sir” and pull my hand back. He got it again.”

A seasoned diplomat, Arcilla has served as a former Philippine ambassador to Bangladesh, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Laos, and Thailand. He also became a member of the United Nations’ Committee of Experts on Afghanistan.