DepEd asks Bohol teacher to explain Facebook post on banana leaf-writing student

By: Leo Udtohan April 25,2016 - 10:39 PM

TAGBILARAN CITY — A teacher was asked to explain why she posted on Facebook a photo of one of her students writing on a banana leaf instead of helping her out.

The photo caught the attention of ABS-CBN which reached Jhessa Balbastro whose story was featured in the last segment of the PiliPinas debate on Sunday before the five presidential candidates gave their closing statements.

But the education officials in Bohol were not amused and called Maria Ana Doroy, 34, to a meeting at the Department of Education office in Tagbilaran City, Bohol about 1 p.m. on Monday.

“It doesn’t happen in Bohol nga magsuwat sa dahon sa saging maskin unsa ka pobre ta diri (that our students would write on banana leaves no matter how poor we are),” said Dr. Wilfreda Bongalos, schools division superintendent.

Bongalos advised teachers to think first before posting anything on social media.

“Think, think, think before you post. Be responsible of the use of social media,” she said.

But Doroy, Grade five teacher of Bonotbonot Elementary School in Buenavista town in Bohol, said posting the photo of the girl on

FaceBook was done in “good faith.” “My intention was to inspire people that despite being poor, she was still creative,” she told the Inquirer on Monday.

Doroy had 37 pupils last school year including Balbastro, an incoming Grade six this June. She recalled that they were having a quiz on the terminology during a Science class when she noticed that Balbastro was using a banana leaf instead of a regular piece of paper.

She said she took a photo of Balbastro writing on her “banana leaf,” posted it on Facebook and captioned it “Very inspiring.”

She said she hoped her post would catch enough attention that Balbastro and her family would get some help.

Balbastro is the eldest of the six children of Walden Manatad, a laborer, and Mary Jane Torreon. They live in Buenavista, a fourth class municipality (annual income P25 million but less than P35 million) located about 83 km from Tagbilaran City.

The girl narrated in the ABS-CBN segment on Sunday that they had no money to buy school supplies so she decided to write her assignment on a banana leaf, unmindful of the heckling from her classmates.

Her family, she added, also has no electricity connection in their home. Poverty, however, did not douse her desire to become a teacher. Balbastro ranked eight in her class.

The segment caught by surprise Marlon Balagtas, head teacher of Bonotbonot Elementary School, located about 500 meters from the town proper, which has 172 pupils in the last school year.

Balagtas said the segment gave an impression that DepEd and the local government of Buenavista had been remiss in helping the town’s poor students.

“Doroy could have approached me when she saw one of her pupils was using a banana leaf because we have many programs and we have school supplies at the office,” said Balagtas.

Balagtas said the school was a recipient of school-based management grant from DepEd central office and would receive P75,000 every three years to buy school supplies, among others.

He also said the school’s maintenance and other operating expenses includes P10,200 a month for the pupils’ needs.

But instead of reporting the incident to the office, Balagtas said Doroy took photo of the girl and posted it on Facebook.

]“She was doing it on her own. She didn’t inform the school. If Doroy’s purpose was to help the family of the child, we could refer her to DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development) and to the local government unit of Buenavista,” he said.

Bongalos said DepEd has several partner organizations to ensure that pupils in the province could finish their studies.

Desiderio Deligero, DepEd Bohol’s school governance and operations division chief, said DepEd also has a two-year old program in Bohol called Amoma Giya, Alayon sa Kalampusan (Agak), which nurtures students, especially those at risk of dropping out, so they can complete their basic education.

“Indigent students, who are at risk of dropping out from school, get a teacher or benefactor who will nurture, guide and help students complete basic education,” said Deligero.

He said at least 8,854 teachers and benefactors help shape the character and pay for the school fees of some 9,742 indigent pupils and students in the province.

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TAGS: ABS-CBN, bohol, DepEd

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