Cebu, Philippines (5 June) -- More than 13.4 million elementary pupils and 6.43 million secondary students trooped to the various elementary and secondary schools in the country yesterday for the smooth and peaceful opening of classes.
Except for the usual confusion in classroom search, Department of Education and the PNP in Central Visayas also confirmed that school opening in the region was quite more peaceful this year than the 2006 opening of classes.
DepEd regional director, Carolino Mordeno attributed it to the Brigada Eskwela or the National Maintenance Week program of the department that enjoined all stakeholders to unite to prepare schools for the entrants of over 2-million students from the public and private elementary and high schools in Central Visayas.
Mordeno said, the Brigada Eskwela is a nationwide volunteer efforts of parents, teachers, youth, students, police and the multi-civic society and the communities around the schools that help in cleaning, repairing, repainting and getting the schools ready for the opening of classes thus, making the first day of school for grade 1 pupils and new entrants a happy experience.
"The readiness of schools for the opening of classes depended so much on the cooperation of the communities. Teachers come and go, but the structures of the school will continue to stand, it is the community's obligation to take care of the schools," Mordeno said in a media interview.
Modeno earlier said that about 90 of the 170 schools in Central Visayas were practically ready one week before classes started. With the Brigada Eskwela, the government was able to save at least P44-million for every P1,000 worth of repair work done to 44,000 public schools in the country, Mordeno added.
In similar developments, the DepEd in region 7 had invited non-government organizations and foundations, wealthy individuals to help improve the educational system at the countryside through its program called "Adopt-a-School."
According to Mordeno, the program gives private institutions and individuals the opportunity to become partners in education in addressing the perennial problems of lack of classrooms, desks, books and other materials needed to upgrade and update the quality of Philippine education.
Mordeno explained that the department does not stop in making programs that would encourage children and the out-of-school youth to go back to school and the private-government partnership in improving the system of education.
As this developed, Mordeno also revealed that the government also procured and distributed 105.7 million textbooks to all public schools for priority subjects like English, Mathematics and Science that will help attain a 1:1 textbook to pupil ratio for said subjects.
To attain a 1:45 teacher to pupil ratio in all public schools nationwide, DepEd hired 16,390 additional public school teachers to fill in the gap of the shortage of teachers within the year as well as the construction of 6,000 additional classrooms that are expected to be completed by the yearend.
The DepEd also expanded the GASTPE or Government Assistance to Students and Teachers in private Education programs where the department gives students in private schools a P4,000 subsidy to stay enrolled and prevent a migration to the already congested public schools.
Meantime, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) in the region through the "Galing sa Mamamayang Pilipino Abroad" program turned over two school building to the local government unit of Carmen town in Cebu recently. These schools were funded by Mitsubishi Corp and Manila Water Company. Carmen mayor Virgilio Villamor; Mitsubishi country manager Margaret Gaisano-Ang; Toshifumi Inami and Manila Water treasurer Sherisa Nuesa led the turn over ceremonies.
Elias Cayanong, DOLE-7 regional director said, "out of more than 3T barangays in the region, only 27 were chosen as beneficiaries of the project and the Luyang and Dawis Sur Elementary Schools were among the first beneficiaries."
Provincial Board member Agnes Magpale on the other hand said, the construction of these schools meant six additional classrooms that can house about 240 children in both Dawis and Luyang. Cayanong on his part said, Luyang Elementary School now has four new classrooms while Dawis Sur Elementary School will soon accommodate more students with an additional of two classrooms.
In their messages, Manila Water representative said that the company is consistently seeking to align its business goals towards the social welfare of the communities they serve while Mitsubishi's Inami reminded the beneficiaries to use the classrooms frequently. The schools also received computers from manila Water.
Luyang Elementary School principal, Nestor Molde thanked the local officials and the donors and pledged "we will do our best for its safekeeping."
With the DepEd's continuing efforts to improve the country's educational system, the government is optimistic that all these programs will bear fruit with better academic performance of students and the committed allegiance of the multi-stakeholders towards the cause of basic education.The all out war against the Philippine education crises are now in full swing and that the entire nation has responded to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's call for support to the public schools in the country. (PIA-Cebu/MBCN)