Human rights body may review student handbooks

1 04 2012

Sunday, April 1, 2012

MANILA — The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) said Sunday it may review the handbooks of schools after some students were barred to join the graduation rites for allegedly posting lewd photos on the Internet.

Last week, an incident in Cebu City caused online attacks towards St. Theresa’s College (STC) when it did not allow five of its students to attend the graduation rites because of supposed “bikini” photos posted on Facebook.

Although the court ordered that the said students be made to attend their graduation, the school administration refused to honor the issued order.

Another case was reported in Infant Jesus Academy in Marikina City where six boys were denied of joining their graduation rites because of photos posted on the same social networking site showing them simulating a kiss.

Both institutions are Catholic schools.

“We may look into it as this will be in accordance with mandated standards and norms on the right of the child to education and against discrimination and child abuse,” CHR Chairperson Etta Rosales said.

“CHR is in the best position to police these academic institutions,” JC Tejano, national spokesperson of the Student Council Alliance of the Philippines (Scap), said.

Tejano said they regularly receive reports from students of various schools presenting similar dilemmas.

For Scap, Catholic academic institutions resort to punish their students in an unfair manner under the guise of academic freedom.

“Schools are protected because of academic freedom. But academic freedom should not be used as an excuse to control students in this manner. Students’ personal space, which includes social networking sites such as Facebook, should not be governed by any school policy,” Tejano said.

Earlier, Scap alleged that STC violated the students’ rights to freedom of expression and speech and several provisions in the Magna Carta for Women by causing psychological and emotional trauma.

The group is also urging legislators to expedite the passage of a law protecting students’ rights. Currently, several versions of students’ rights bills are pending before the House of Representatives and the Senate. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)




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