Unless you live under a rock, you’ve perhaps watched already the video of Krisel Mallari delivering her salutatory speech, only to be stopped halfway by school officials. As of posting time, the said YouTube video has received almost three million page views.
Unfortunately, the said video fails to adequately show the complete incident behind the incident. Based on Mallari’s speech and Sto. Nino Parochial School’s official statement, it is obvious that academic competition triggered the entire fracas.
Krisel apparently in contention to be the batch valedictorian but she was not the favored student of the school administration and some faculty members. In succeeding interviews, she said her father asked the school to show him how the grade computation was made but was told by school officials (citing confidentiality rules) that he can only see his daughter’s grades.
This incident highlights two important issues for the studentry. First is the extent of their freedom of expression inside and outside the campus. The second one is the all-to-common accusation that irregularities happen when school officials and concerned teachers decide who will make it to the honor roll.
Contrary to what others might think, the government is not the only institution that should observe freedom of speech. Even school administrations must abide by this constitutional guarantee.
Now, it must be asked: Are students really able to express their thoughts about school policies, grading systems, and other academic-related matters without the threat of possible sanctions?
Are teachers and school administrators reasonably approachable to students and parents? Is the student council empowered enough to assert the welfare of those they represent? Do they have a truly independent campus newspaper?
Another issue that Krisel’s speech highlighted is the regrettable system of “palakasan” in schools. In the Philippine context, “palakasan” refers to those instances where individuals get something (an award, a promotion, etc.) ahead of others not because of his/her credentials but because he/she has the backing of those in power.
Of course, it’s very seldom for “palakasan” to be reflected in a paper trail. More often than not, everything boils down to perception and gut feel. Nevertheless, before a student or his/her parent can accuse teachers of just manipulating the grades, they former must be asked: what evidence do they have?
Now, you can never underestimate the role of parents in the whole hullabaloo. There’s nothing wrong with academic competitiveness. Who wouldn’t want his/her son or daughter to excel academically? However, things go wrong when “overeager” parents enter the scene.
You can only imagine what a child is capable of doing when he/she is faced with unrealistic expectations from parents. On the other hand, some parents even engage in rumor-mongering just to discredit the kids they perceive as “threats” to their child’s honor roll ambitions.
I remember when I was in Grade 2, there were certain parents who really took issue of me being the first honor. So much that they raised silly stuff like my transfer from another school and my being “mahinhin.”