Table Talk: Absolutely no ‘pay toilets’ in government schools PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 28 April 2014 11:13

BY Mike S Apostol


Table Talk does not wish to intrude into the affairs of government schools in the city but a concerned parent forwarded an alarming information about a pioneer government fishery technology school that has expanded to other Marine Sciences. To top it all, it is now a State College through the efforts of First District Congressman Celso Lobregat during his first stint in Congress before he became City Mayor.

Congressman Lobregat worked laboriously in the conversion of this Fishery School into a State College, with the end in view that it could greatly help college students in the city and the region, who cannot afford taking up Marine and Fishery courses in private colleges outside of the city. This dream is short lived, because now the “baby” state college of Congressman Lobregat is embroiled in internal bickerings between some school officials and some school faculty members. Worse, some parents have even filed cases of “child abuse” against an official of that school. The case we were informed was already decided in favor of the child victim’s parents but was appealed that prompted the Department of Justice to  call the attention of the City Prosecutors Office for review (Table Talk is in the process of confirming this information with the City Prosecutors Office). But the anathema at that school did not end here. Another alarming development in collecting fees from college students and employees, whenever they use a school comfort room from 1 to 3 pesos per usage, after it was refurbished by funds coming from the parents of college students taking up Marine Science courses. They call that parents contribution fund the Marine Educational Fund (MEF).

The MEF was created and said to have millions of pesos in reserve funds because every school year every student enrolled in Marine courses in the Zamboanga State College of Marine Sciences and Technology (ZSTCMST) has to pay the MEF fee which is over a thousand pesos per year and per Marine Science student and it has been going on for several years now. Table Talk inquired from the concerned parents as to why they organized the MEF, the parent answered that the vision of the MEF was with a good purpose —  to help the school in acquiring needed facilities for students use without necessarily using government funds of the school which takes years to be approved because of government processes like “bidding” and other delays and once approved after many months, the needed facility does not anymore serve its purpose. With funds from the MEF which has already accumulated into millions of pesos, all it needs is the recommendation of the MEF members, signed by the MEF officials tasked to handle those funds and the approval of the president of the school, the students can immediately purchase what they need in their studies. The purpose is excellent, but lately, it  allegedly became the subject of abuse by school officials, like improving a comfort room by parent’s money and made business out of it by allegedly collecting a “toilet fee” for maintenance purposes. What happened to the school utility men?  Is the ZSTCMST now a bus terminal or a highway carinderia? There is nothing wrong if that comfort room happens to be in a private property and constructed by a private businessman, but, ladies and gentlemen, the comfort room was already constructed in that government school using government funds and now the MEF only improved it and made a business out of it by collecting a fee every time it is used?

The government is making it easy for government schools to help majority of poor students. In the secondary and first level of education, the government is not even allowing the collection of tuition and matriculation fees and the government even went out of its way by assisting poor families who cannot send their children to school through the 4 Ps or “Pantawid” program. But here we are, a government state college collecting a fee for using a “comfort Room” and who will feel comfortable with this? Perhaps the collectors who don’t allegedly issue receipts and the school, that is not subject to audit from government auditors. Congressman CelsoLobregat and Mayor Beng Climaco-Salazar, who are playing by the rule in their administration must have a “little” look into this information, who knows this is only the “tip of the iceberg”.

Scoop: “bato bato sa langit ang tamaan huwag magalit” and please stop using the MEF funds for blow out, gifts and so forth. Don’t waste the parents money. It is hard earned. In fact one parent has to sell his farm animal just so he can pay the MEF contribution of his son. Ever believe of “Karma”? Beware, it will not hit now but it will come sometimes at a time when you think you are almost safe. A friendly reminder from my Pastor friend.