Last Friday was a milestone for all homeschooling families in the Philippines. March 3, 2017 marked the celebration of the first National Homeschool Day. Senate PSR No. 308, introduced by Senator Francis N. Pangilinan, expresses the full support of the Senate of the Philippines for this day in Philippine homeschooling history.
I remember the first time I attended a Homeschool Intro seminar sponsored by TMA Homeschool (now Homeschool Global) nine years ago. There were only a handful of us young moms in the room. We tried our best to listen to Edric Mendoza explain what homeschooling is while feeding a baby or keeping a toddler preoccupied. I later found out that Edric was the president of the Homeschool Association of the Philippine Islands (HAPI) and perhaps the strongest advocate of homeschooling in the Philippines together with his wife Joy. Later as a member of the team of Family Advisors of Homeschool Global, I would receive from Edric first hand updates on the status of homeschooling in the Philippines — both the travails and the triumphs.
I also remember how veteran homeschooling moms shared with rookie homeschooling moms like me their struggles in the earlier days of homeschooling. They said they weren’t always warmly welcomed at the Department of Education office whenever they submitted their children’s requirements for accreditation. But they still pressed on and courageously showed the DepEd officials that they were very capable of educating their children.
We have had our own mix of experience in our homeschooling. Some of our friends have expressed awe and admiration at our courageous decision to take our children’s education into our own hands. After hearing our story, a few of these friends followed suit and embarked on their own homeschooling adventure. On the other hand we also have well-meaning relatives who asked what was wrong with our kids that they were not in regular school. Recently, an aunt remarked, “Kawawa naman sila (referring to my kids). They never experienced what it’s like to be in school.”
The First National Homeschool Day is a milestone for Filipino homeschoolers because we, parents, are being recognized as legitimate educators of our children and that the school in our homes is a legitimate learning environment. The resolution authored by Senator Pangilinan affirms that “homeschooling puts parents at the center of the education process of the child given the recognized and accepted fact, founded on law, that it is the primary responsibility of parents to raise and rear their children especially in their formative years.”
The resolution further reiterates the constitutional rights of parents to rear their children and the Family Code’s recognition that parents have the primary responsibility of educating their children. It also quoted the DECS Memorandum No. 216 s. 1997 stating that “home education is designed to provide an alternative delivery system of education from which children acquire the necessary skills to develop their full potential to become self-propelling, fulfilled, and contributing members of the community.”
We celebrate that Filipino parents can train up their children using a curriculum that is anchored on their family values. We celebrate the fact that in the Philippines, parents can make a choice to educate their children in the safety of their homes, ensuring that they grow into well-rounded, responsible, and useful citizens of the nation. We celebrate that as homeschooling families, we can play an active role in building up the Philippines.