House attempts to regulate school field trips

To ensure the safety of students during off-campus activities, the House of Representatives is now finalizing a proposal that will regulate school field trips.

In a joint hearing, the committees on basic education and culture as well as higher and technical education this week approved the creation of a technical working group (TWG) that will fine-tune House Bill 5121 which seeks to regulate educational field trips.

The proposed “Educational Field Trips Act” seeks to regulate the conduct of off-campus activities, such as field trips, by all public and private schools and educational institutions directly or indirectly operating within the country.

The bill expressly states the policy of the State to instill health and safety consciousness among the people and to maintain honesty and integrity in the country’s educational institutions.

It provides that no field trip shall be undertaken without the written consent of the parents or guardians of students.

There shall be no punitive measures or activities such as examination related to the educational field trip that will put the students who could not join the trip at a disadvantage.

Moreover, students shall be given activities in school to compensate for their inability to join a field trip. They also shall not be given a failing or incomplete grade for failure to join a field trip.

Erring school officials, teachers or responsible school personnel shall be penalized with imprisonment of one to two years and a fine of P100,000 to P500,000.

The bill’s author, Rep. Scott Davies Lanete (3rd District, Masbate), said the Department of Education’s current policy on educational tour, as detailed in Department Order No. 52, series of 2003, has been “a toothless tiger when it comes to the safety of students.”

Lanete said it is high time for the country to adopt stricter measures in ensuring that schools will comply with the Department Order by penalizing non-compliance. As long as there is no law penalizing non-compliance, students will continue to be exposed to accidents risks, said Lanete.

The committee on basic education and culture is chaired by Rep. Ramon Durano VI while the committee on higher and technical education is chaired by Rep. Ann Hofer.