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IN MY EYES: The death of ECA

ECA stands for Extra Curricular Activities, fellas.

It was one of the nicest incentives given by the DepEd to talented students so they can show off their wares during competitions, seminars or trainings. You see, not all students are talented or gifted in the field of writing, dancing, oration, declamation, song writing and singing, sports or the like. ECA points then were given to those who excelled in these fields. They were recognized at the end of the school year for a job well done.

Previously, in the computation of final grades, 30% of the student’s grade goes to ECA while the remaining 70% goes to academic grades. So, no matter how bright the student is inside the classroom if he doesn’t have ECA points, he may lose in the final evaluation of grades, therefore, in order to shine the brightest, a student has to be active, too, in ECAs to develop him holistically.

But as I said, it “was” one of the nicest incentives the DepEd has ever given to talented students. Several years ago, the DepEd came out with a DepEd order stipulating the guidelines in the assessment of grades and ranks of students. Gone were the days of the 70%-30% ECA-Acad grading system for it was already superceded by the new DepEd order. In the new grading system, there are no longer ECA points, so no matter how talented a child is in various ECAs, that means no point for him.

Now what’s the disadvantage of this non-ECA point grading system , fellas?

One, students tend to concentrate all their time in their academic performance because their academic performance is the one and only basis for honors when recognition day comes, hence, no time for other non-academic activities.

Two, parents are no longer that keen in supporting their kids to join non-acad activities because “they get nothing” from them. In other words, since these non-acad activities have no bearing in their children’s grades, why send them in the first place?

A teacher-parent once said: “I am no longer allowing my child to compete for her school in the press conference because she gets nothing out of it.”

Three, teacher-coaches and trainers have a hard time calling on talented students to train, especially the senior high school students when there are division or regional contests. Perla, a school paper adviser and trainer of a big secondary school expressed her sadness: “We have been performing well in division press conferences but I don’t know if we can still win a couple in the incoming Division Schools Press Conference,” she said.

Why, ma’am?

“It’s very difficult to recruit students to be trained in the various contest field because they said there are no longer ECA points for them,” she said.

This is now the plight of school paper advisers (SPA) and coaches, fellas. They have difficulty in recruiting writers.

One SPA laments the fact that she could not get any of the better writers from the Senior High School because the kids “are too busy.”

“Nobody likes to join the training because they said they are too busy with their IPs (Investigative projects), video presentations using the Windows Movie Maker or the Power Director application and their power point presentations. They said they have a lot of things to do and that they have no time to train or join the DSPC pool,” she said.

Now, she and her co-adviser are having big problems on who among their students will they field in the different DSPC contests (English and Filipino) such as news writing, editorial writing, feature writing, science feature, sports writing, editorial cartooning, photojournalism, column writing, collaborative desktop publishing, TV broadcast, Radio Scriptwriting and Broadcasting and in Copyreading and Headline Writing.

“The DSPC contests are fast approaching and all those who came for our Saturday training are Grade 7 and Grade 8 students only. All those we recruited in the Senior High School (SHS) were all no-show last Saturday and this worries me a lot. We might now win any in the DSPC and that would be very embarrassing,” she said.

Bernard, a school paper adviser laments: “When there were ECA points for them, they came to train in bunches, each trainee hoping to land as a contestant in any of the DSPC contest events. Now, nobody comes to train.”

So what’s the puss all about, fellas?

“School paper advisers and their writers take care of the school paper published at leat twice a school year. They are also responsible in preparing their contestants in the different press conference contest areas, but if they could not recruit any, why join the DSPC?” Bernard said.

Mang Maing suggests that the DepEd re-adopt the ECA points in giving incentives to students who join contests.

“I don’t know why the DepEd scrapped the ECA points for students. It was working well when suddenly it vanished in thin air. This is all I can say: Why fix the ship if ain’t broke?” Mang Maing retorts.

He further said that the curriculum makers “think too much or too many” that sometimes they spoil the broth. He notices that every DepEd secretary has “something new” under his sleeve for him to be remembered once he retires.

“Everyone wants to introduce something so no matter how effective a scheme is but not his brainchild, it has to be changed so as to introduce an innovation,” he said.

So, what should be done?

“They should double their efforts in recruiting writers,” Mang Maing said. “They should talk to the students’ advisers, teachers and parents.”

And if this is not effective?

“If you don’t have good contestants, why join the contests? Or if your supposed to be best contestants are not interested, why worry? Don’t join the contests and your problem is solved!” Mang Maing said.

I don’t know if that’s a sound advice, fellas, but for me, teacher-coaches-trainers have to abide by all DepEd issuances under the K to 12 curriculum. They are mandated to do their best to teach and train their learners in a way that “nobody is left behind.” Everyone should move up or advance that’s why teachers have to double, triple or even quadruple their efforts to reach out every child and lift him up to become globally competitive as reflected in the DepEd’s vision and mission.

Any better suggestion, fellas?