By: Manuel “Boy” Mejorada

I’ve always abhorred homework. In fact, I went through my elementary and high school without doing a single piece of homework. I wasn’t the model of a diligent pupil in those days. But somehow, I managed to get good-enough grades to make it to the honor roll for each school year. I spent more time playing after school and weekends. I made a lot of friends. My boyhood years were full of fun and adventure.

This was the reason that when my daughter, Raiza Jazmin, came back from Manila (where she had studied prep to kindergarten and grade one) in 2011 and enrolled at the Sta. Maria Catholic School-Ateneo de Iloilo for Grade Two eight years ago, I laid down my first rule: no homeworks.

Yes, I imposed a “no homework” rule for my children.

My own childhood experience was the sole basis for making this decision. I have seen how schools “tortured” children with so many subjects and a whole-day schedule of classes, with homework to oppress them upon coming home, dead-tired. This was what my other children (JM, Patricia, Frances and Brian) had gone through. I didn’t want Raiza and Rachel to experience this kind of “education”.

And so after school, I instructed Raiza and Rachel (who is four years younger) to do nothing but play and draw and read non-academic books. They went out to play with children from the neighborhood, learned to ride a bike. I wanted them to enjoy childhood.

Both of them graduated from their elementary grades with the highest honors. Raiza was number three or four in her class. Rachel was the valedictorian. They are now scholars at the Philippine Science High School (or Pisay) main campus in Diliman, Quezon City. From among tens of thousands of applicants from across the country, both made the cut of the top 240 applicants for their batches.

I guess the evidence is just too strong to dispute. I have shown that a “no homework” policy is healthy and beneficial to children.

This is the reason I strongly support a legislative initiative to compel the Department of Education to scrap homework from the school system. Doing homework does not add to a child’s learning. In fact, it even stifles intellectual growth. A child’s mind is still in developmental stage, and overloading it is like pushing a 1300-cc engine to perform like a V8. I disagree with a statement I heard from a teacher that “more study translates to more learning.” A child needs diverse activities outside the classroom to absorb knowledge and learn how to build inter-personal skills.

But more than my personal experience, there’s a plethora of evidence to show that the no-homework policy is advantageous to our students. Finland’s education system is hailed as the most successful and effective in the whole world, and a key feature is the complete discard of homework from the curriculum. Not only is there no homework; class hours are limited to 4 to 5 hours every day. Students are encouraged to engage in socialization and extra-curricular activities.

Many nations are now trying to copy the Finland model of education.

However, scrapping homework isn’t the catch-all answer to our educational problems. More investments need to be poured into improving teacher competence and providing adequate facilities for all schools. Sadly, our schools continue to be saddled by problems like lack of classrooms, chairs and other basic facilities. That’s not to mention the poor support for teachers like free chalks for their use.

I think it would also help if our public educational system is shielded from political influence.

It’s a pity that the hiring of teachers is heavily influenced by politicians, and meritocracy is often placed far below the ladder of criteria for choosing whom to hire. We need competent teachers at all levels, or even more so at the primary school level (Kindergarten to Grade III).