POPE FRANCIS ANNOUNCES PLANS TO VISIT PHILIPPINES, SRI LANKA

Aboard the papal plane, May 27, 2014, on his return flight from the Holy Land, Pope Francis
announced that he will visit Sri Lanka and the Philippines in January 2015. “There are two Asian trips planned: one to South Korea and then next January, a two-day trip to Sri Lanka and the Philippines, to the area affected by the tsunami,” Pope Francis said during an in-flight press conference May 26, according to the Italian newspaper La Stampa. Pope Paul VI visited the Philippines in 1970. St. John Paul II visited the Philippines in 1981 and again in 1995 during a trip that included Sri Lanka, Australia, and Papua New Guinea. In February, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith of the Sri Lankan capital of Colombo had invited Pope Francis to visit the country. “I welcome this invitation, and I think the Lord will grant us the grace,” the Pope told Sri Lankan pilgrims at the Vatican Feb. 8. Pope Francis also acknowledged that “many tears have been shed” by the victims of the country’s decades-old civil conflict. He urged the healing of wounds and cooperation between the country’s factions to work for peace, acknowledging that this is “not easy.” There are about 1.2 million Catholics in Sri Lanka out of a population of over 20 million. Sri Lankans are predominantly Buddhist, though there are sizeable Hindu and Muslim minorities. The Philippines is a predominantly Catholic country, with about 70.4 million Catholics in a population of 88.9 million people. The country has a significant Muslim minority. READ  MORE...

ALSO: Gay marriage around the world

PARIS – The first gay couples tied the knot across England and Wales on Saturday after a law authorizing same-sex marriage took effect at midnight, the final stage in a long fight for homosexuals’ equal civil rights. Worldwide 15 countries now allow same-sex marriage:
THE NETHERLANDS: In April 2001, The Netherlands became the first country to allow gays and lesbians to marry in a civil ceremony and adopt children. BELGIUM: Same-sex marriage was made legal in June 2003, but some restrictions apply. Homosexual couples were allowed to adopt children in 2006. SPAIN: The country’s socialist government made same-sex marriage legal in July 2005. Homosexual couples were also allowed to adopt, regardless of their marital status.
CANADA: A law authorizing same-sex marriage and adoptions entered into force in July 2005. Most provinces had already authorized same-sex unions. SOUTH AFRICA: In November 2006 South Africa became the first African country to legalize civil partnerships or marriage between two persons of the same gender. They were also allowed to adopt. READ MORE...

ALSO: Catholic Church has no problem with marriage between gay man, lesbian

Two homosexual men cannot marry but a gay man and a lesbian can tie the knot, according to the head of the Catholic Church’s matrimonial court. Archbishop Oscar Cruz, judicial vicar of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines-National Appellate Matrimonial Tribunal, all but ruled out any chance of the Catholic Church agreeing to same-sex unions in the Philippines but said a lesbian and gay man might be allowed to marry. “May a lesbian marry a gay man? My answer is ‘yes’ because in that instance the capacity to consummate the union is there. The anatomy is there. The possibility of conception is there,” Cruz told a church forum on Tuesday. “I ask this question to myself and I have thought about it for a long time and the answer is ‘yes’,” he said. Cruz was explaining the Church’s opposition to gay marriage or same-sex civil unions. Several European church leaders — including Godfried Cardinal Daneels, the former Archbishop of Mechelin-Brussels, and the Vatican spokesman, Fr. Federico Lombardi SJ — recently made statements that were seen as hinting of eventual Church approval for gay civil unions. But Cruz said gay advocates would have a difficult job getting legal approval for gay civil unions in the Philippines, a predominantly Catholic country. “That will be against the Constitution and against the Family Code of the Philippines. So, they have to revise the Constitution for that,” he said. “The law says marriage is between a man and a woman and for raising a family,” he said. READ MORE...

ALSO: Public schools start classes on June 2

The Department of Education (DepEd) said yesterday the start of classes for school year 2014-2015 in public elementary and secondary schools will be on June 2. The academic year 2014-2015 will have 201 school days, 180 of which are non-negotiable teacher-student contact time based on DepEd order no. 18, series of 2014. Education Secretary Armin Luistro said private schools may deviate from this school calendar. However, they may not start classes earlier than the first Monday of June and not later than the last day of August. He said schools may observe national and local celebrations and holidays other than those listed by DepEd provided that the total number of school days are maintained and make-up classes are conducted. DepEd also sets the Brigada Eskwela from May 19 to 24. Brigada Eskwela allows communities and private organizations to cleanup the classrooms in preparation for the opening of classes. The school year 2014-2015 shall end on March 27, 2015, the DepEd order said. Summer classes, on the other hand, will begin on April 13, 2015 and end on May 23, 2015. DepEd maintains the June-March academic calendar for school year 2014-2015 despite the shift in school opening of some universities. The change in academic calendar is supposed to be in preparation for the integration of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 2015. READ MORE...

ALSO: 21 million students troop back to school today

Close to 21 million students nationwide are expected to go back to school today as School Year (SY) 2014-2015 opens. Data from the Central Office of the Department of Education (DepEd) showed that the projected enrolment in public schools nationwide is 20,925,962 for this SY with 1,796,566 pupils in kindergarten, 13,324,349 pupils in elementary, and 5,805,047 in secondary. PHOTO --WELCOME MESSAGE – A teacher at an elementary school in Manila finishes writing on the blackboard a welcoming message to her pupils yesterday.
In private schools—where classes may start not later than August 4—some three million students are also expected to go back to school this school year. Total enrolment for both private and public schools last SY 2013-2014 is 23,901,273.
DepEd, meantime, reminded school officials “not to forget far-flung areas and special schools.” Palace  noted that the budget of the education department has reached P335.4 billion under the 2014 national budget, the biggest allocation among government agencies. The Constitution mandates that education must have the highest priority in the national budget.READ MORE...

ALSO: Palace says classroom shortage a continuing challenge

As hundreds of students return to school tomorrow, the government said that addressing classroom backlog and other needs of the education sector is a continuing challenge. Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. explained yesterday that the government is not misleading the public into believe that there are no more problems with school facilities and supplies when citing the Department of Education’s success in solving the 66,000-classroom backlog after Education Secretary Armin Luistro and the Aquino administration assumed office in 2010. Coloma said under Luistro, 66,213 classrooms were built, more than the target. But this accomplishment must be taken vis-a-vis the disasters that hit the country like the Zamboanga City siege, the strong earthquake in Bohol and Cebu and Super Typhoon Yolanda. Many classrooms were destroyed while some suffered from natural wear and tear. Add to these factors the new educational requirements under the K-12 program, which made kindergarten compulsory under the law, he explained. READ MORE...

ALSO: And yet Dep-Ed says no more classroom shortage

Don’t be surprised if you find some students holding classes under the trees this coming school year and yet the Department of Education (DepEd) will insist that there is no classroom shortage. DepEd, the government agency tasked to provide basic education, has its own definition of classroom shortage. DepEd Assistant Secretary and Spokesman Tonisito Umali explained that classroom shortage is not applicable in schools where there is no more buildable space. “When you say there’s shortage, you need to build classrooms but how can you build, even if you have funds, if you don’t have the space?” he stressed. Yesterday, Umali categorically said that there will be no more classroom shortage in the coming school year. “We want to categorically state DepEd has already addressed classroom shortage,” said Umali. He added that DepEd has continuously been making interventions in the previous years “to address the classroom shortage nationwide” and to achieve the ideal ratio of classroom to student at 1:45. Palace on shortage --While DepEd claims that there will be no classroom shortage this coming school year, Malacañang has a different take. Malacañang clarified that when it says that there is “no more classroom backlog,” it is only referring to the shortage of classrooms left by the Arroyo administration in 2010. READ MORE...


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Pope Francis announces plans to visit Philippines, Sri Lanka
 


Pope Francis arrives at the airport in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for World Youth Day 2013. Credit: Walter Sanchez Silva/CNA.

MANILA, JUNE 2, 2014
(CATHOLIC NEWS AGENCY)
 Aboard the papal plane, May 27, 2014, on his return flight from the Holy Land, Pope Francis announced that he will visit Sri Lanka and the Philippines in January 2015.

“There are two Asian trips planned: one to South Korea and then next January, a two-day trip to Sri Lanka and the Philippines, to the area affected by the tsunami,” Pope Francis said during an in-flight press conference May 26, according to the Italian newspaper La Stampa.

Pope Paul VI visited the Philippines in 1970. St. John Paul II visited the Philippines in 1981 and again in 1995 during a trip that included Sri Lanka, Australia, and Papua New Guinea.

In February, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith of the Sri Lankan capital of Colombo had invited Pope Francis to visit the country.

“I welcome this invitation, and I think the Lord will grant us the grace,” the Pope told Sri Lankan pilgrims at the Vatican Feb. 8.

Pope Francis also acknowledged that “many tears have been shed” by the victims of the country’s decades-old civil conflict. He urged the healing of wounds and cooperation between the country’s factions to work for peace, acknowledging that this is “not easy.”

There are about 1.2 million Catholics in Sri Lanka out of a population of over 20 million. Sri Lankans are predominantly Buddhist, though there are sizeable Hindu and Muslim minorities.

The Philippines is a predominantly Catholic country, with about 70.4 million Catholics in a population of 88.9 million people. The country has a significant Muslim minority.

In November 2013, the Philippines was struck by the devastating Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest storms ever recorded. The storm killed over 6,300 people.

In March 2014, the Vatican confirmed Pope Francis would visit South Korea this August. The visit coincides with the sixth Asian Youth Day, hosted by the Diocese of Daejon.

On the papal flight, the Pope also spoke about the problem of religious persecution, warning: “I think there are more martyrs now that the early Church had seen.”

“The problem of the lack of freedom in the practice of religion is not only limited to some Asian countries but extends to others too,” he said. “Religious freedom is something not all countries have.”

“Some (countries) control to some extent, others take measures that end up being full on persecution. There are martyrs today, Christian, catholic and non-Catholic martyrs. In some place you are forbidden from wearing a cross, possessing a bible or teaching children catechism.”

He gave the example of believers gathering in secret to celebrate the Eucharist while pretending that “they are having tea” because praying together is forbidden.

“We need to approach certain places carefully, to go and help them, pray a lot for these Churches that are suffering, suffering a great deal,” the Pope said, adding that “bishops and the Holy See are working with discretion in order to help Christians in these countries, but it’s not easy task.”

FROM THE INQUIRER

Gay marriage around the world Agence France-Presse 11:43 am | Sunday, March 30th, 2014
 


The wedding rings of Sean Adl-Tabatabai and Sinclair Treadway are seen on their fingers as they pose for photographs after they were officially married in a wedding ceremony in the Council Chamber at Camden Town Hall in London, minutes into Saturday, March 29, 2014. AP

PARIS – The first gay couples tied the knot across England and Wales on Saturday after a law authorizing same-sex marriage took effect at midnight, the final stage in a long fight for homosexuals’ equal civil rights.

Worldwide 15 countries now allow same-sex marriage:

THE NETHERLANDS: In April 2001, The Netherlands became the first country to allow gays and lesbians to marry in a civil ceremony and adopt children.

BELGIUM: Same-sex marriage was made legal in June 2003, but some restrictions apply. Homosexual couples were allowed to adopt children in 2006.

SPAIN: The country’s socialist government made same-sex marriage legal in July 2005. Homosexual couples were also allowed to adopt, regardless of their marital status.

CANADA: A law authorizing same-sex marriage and adoptions entered into force in July 2005. Most provinces had already authorized same-sex unions.

SOUTH AFRICA: In November 2006 South Africa became the first African country to legalize civil partnerships or marriage between two persons of the same gender. They were also allowed to adopt.

NORWAY: Homosexuals and heterosexuals were put on the same legal footing in January 2009 and allowed to marry, adopt and resort to assisted reproductive technologies.

SWEDEN: Same-sex couples were allowed to marry in civil or Lutheran Church ceremonies in May 2009. Adoptions for all have been legal since 2003.

PORTUGAL: Same-sex marriage has been legal since June 2010 but adoptions by homosexuals are not.

ICELAND: Same-sex marriages were legalized in June 2010, adoptions by homosexuals in 2006.

ARGENTINA: In July 2010, Argentina became the first Latin American country to legalize same-sex marriage. Homosexual couples can also adopt.

DENMARK: Since June 2012, gays and lesbians are allowed to marry in Lutheran Church ceremonies. Denmark was the first country in the world to legalize civil unions for gays and lesbians in 1989.

URUGUAY: In April 2013, Uruguay became the second Latin American country to legalize same-sex marriage. It had legalized adoptions by same-sex couples in 2009.

NEW ZEALAND: Marriage between homosexuals was legalized in April 2013 – 27 years after homosexuality was decriminalized in the first such decision in the Asia-Pacific region.

FRANCE: Same-sex marriage and adoptions by homosexuals were legalized in May 2013.

ENGLAND AND WALES: A law authorizing same-sex marriage was adopted in July 2013. Civil partnerships have been legal since 2005 and marriage brings no new rights – the ability to adopt, for example, was introduced in 2002.

SCOTLAND, which has devolved powers, is expected to introduce gay marriage later this year, while the British-controlled province of NORTHERN IRELAND remains deeply divided on the issue and has no plans to change the law there.

BRAZIL has authorized same-sex marriage since May 14, 2013, after the National Council of Justice ordered clerks to register all marriages pending the adoption of a law by parliament.

MEXICO’s federal capital has allowed same-sex marriage since 2009.

And in the UNITED STATES same-sex marriage is legal in Washington DC and in 17 states (California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington).

In a landmark decision in June the US Supreme Court found that couples in same-sex marriages are entitled to the same benefits and protections as their heterosexual counterparts. Federal judges have since ruled in favor of marriage for lesbian and gay couples in Virginia, Utah, Oklahoma, Ohio, Kentucky and Texas, as has the New Mexico Supreme Court.

The states may still appeal.

Catholic Church has no problem with marriage between gay man, lesbian By Philip C. Tubeza Philippine Daily Inquirer 7:01 pm | Tuesday, June 18th, 2013
 


Retired Archbishop Oscar Cruz.

MANILA, Philippines — Two homosexual men cannot marry but a gay man and a lesbian can tie the knot, according to the head of the Catholic Church’s matrimonial court.

Archbishop Oscar Cruz, judicial vicar of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines-National Appellate Matrimonial Tribunal, all but ruled out any chance of the Catholic Church agreeing to same-sex unions in the Philippines but said a lesbian and gay man might be allowed to marry.

“May a lesbian marry a gay man? My answer is ‘yes’ because in that instance the capacity to consummate the union is there. The anatomy is there. The possibility of conception is there,” Cruz told a church forum on Tuesday.

“I ask this question to myself and I have thought about it for a long time and the answer is ‘yes’,” he said.

Cruz was explaining the Church’s opposition to gay marriage or same-sex civil unions.

Several European church leaders — including Godfried Cardinal Daneels, the former Archbishop of Mechelin-Brussels, and the Vatican spokesman, Fr. Federico Lombardi SJ — recently made statements that were seen as hinting of eventual Church approval for gay civil unions.

But Cruz said gay advocates would have a difficult job getting legal approval for gay civil unions in the Philippines, a predominantly Catholic country.

“That will be against the Constitution and against the Family Code of the Philippines. So, they have to revise the Constitution for that,” he said.

“The law says marriage is between a man and a woman and for raising a family,” he said.

Cruz said the Catholic Church would oppose gay civil unions and other related proposals if these were filed in Congress.

“For the Church, even if you turn it upside down and call it by another name, it would still not be marriage. For the Church, even if a hundred (judges) bless a same-sex wedding, it would still not be effective,” he said.

The Church earlier warned that after the passage of the controversial Reproductive Health Law, similar proposals for same-sex marriage, divorce and euthanasia would follow.

However, gay groups have denied actively pushing for gay marriage in the country. They accuse the Church of using the issue to block other gay civil rights legislation proposals.

“They always use that as a specter to block any other piece of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered) rights legislation,” said Jonas Bagas, executive director of the TLF Share Collective.

“So, even with the anti-discrimination bill, they would frame it as a gay marriage bill,” he said.

Cruz said homosexuality would be a valid ground for the annulment but has been seldom used as a reason in annulment petitions.

“More often, it’s is about psychological problems, meaning there is some kind of mental impairment or emotional disturbance,” he said.

FROM PHILSTAR

Public schools start classes on June 2 By Helen Flores (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 3, 2014 - 12:00am 3 18 googleplus0 0

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Education (DepEd) said yesterday the start of classes for school year 2014-2015 in public elementary and secondary schools will be on June 2.

The academic year 2014-2015 will have 201 school days, 180 of which are non-negotiable teacher-student contact time based on DepEd order no. 18, series of 2014.

Education Secretary Armin Luistro said private schools may deviate from this school calendar. However, they may not start classes earlier than the first Monday of June and not later than the last day of August.

He said schools may observe national and local celebrations and holidays other than those listed by DepEd provided that the total number of school days are maintained and make-up classes are conducted.

DepEd also sets the Brigada Eskwela from May 19 to 24. Brigada Eskwela allows communities and private organizations to cleanup the classrooms in preparation for the opening of classes.

The school year 2014-2015 shall end on March 27, 2015, the DepEd order said.

Summer classes, on the other hand, will begin on April 13, 2015 and end on May 23, 2015.

DepEd maintains the June-March academic calendar for school year 2014-2015 despite the shift in school opening of some universities.

The change in academic calendar is supposed to be in preparation for the integration of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 2015.

Luistro earlier said there is no compelling reason to change the academic calendar for elementary and high schools.

He said unlike in tertiary education, there is no common school opening among member-countries of the ASEAN.

Schools in Brunei Darussalam open in January, Cambodia in October, Indonesia in July, Laos in September, Vietnam in August, Thailand in May and Myanmar and the Philippines in June.

FROM THE MANILA BULLETIN

21 million students troop back to school today by Ina Hernando Malipot
June 1, 2014 (updated)

Close to 21 million students nationwide are expected to go back to school today as School Year (SY) 2014-2015 opens.

Data from the Central Office of the Department of Education (DepEd) showed that the projected enrolment in public schools nationwide is 20,925,962 for this SY with 1,796,566 pupils in kindergarten, 13,324,349 pupils in elementary, and 5,805,047 in secondary.


WELCOME MESSAGE – A teacher at an elementary school in Manila finishes writing on the blackboard a welcoming message to her pupils yesterday. (Ali Vicoy)

In private schools—where classes may start not later than August 4—some three million students are also expected to go back to school this school year. Total enrolment for both private and public schools last SY 2013-2014 is 23,901,273.

DepEd, meantime, reminded school officials “not to forget far-flung areas and special schools.”

Instead of monitoring the school opening in urban areas, Education Secretary Armin Luistro said he “preferred” to inspect out-of-the-way schools, saying they, too, need attention. “Since before I was in DepEd, people have been used to hearing about chairs and classrooms and late enrolees surging through gates…but there are other things that need our attention,” he said.

Luistro and his senior officials will be deployed to various provinces to inspect schools and gather best practices. I feel that we always look at urban areas, but what about island and mountain schools? Or schools that cater to children with special needs, indigenous peoples, or Muslim learners?” he asked. “They’re as much a part of the educational system as any public school in the city but not too much attention gets focused on them,” he added.

The DepEd chief has chosen the autonomous region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) as his area for today “to show solidarity with Muslim Filipinos.”

During his visit to Culion, Palawan, last school opening, Luistro learned that the challenge of schools and students there was how to get to the high school which was on another small island. “We want to let teachers, principals and students know that we have not forgotten them and that they are not alone,” he added.

Other DepEd officials will have assigned areas to monitor, including Region 8, Northern Luzon, and critical areas in Metro Manila.

‘DAY ONE, LESSON ONE’

As in the previous years, Luistro reminded that the standing Order of DepEd is: “Day One, Lesson One.” This, he said, would “ensure that the learners get the most out of the time they spend in school.”

Luistro explained that the reason why DepEd conducted Brigada Eskwela and early enrolment is to “get those activities out of the way.” He stressed that when students “come in on the first day of classes, the teachers should already be teaching.” DepEd has a 200-day school calendar, with a 20-day “buffer” for school activities and class suspensions.

‘BUSING SYSTEM’

Due to lack of “buildable space” which contributes to congestion in public schools particularly in Metro Manila, DepEd key officials has instructed the implementation of the “busing system.”

Assistant Secretary Jesus Mateo said the “busing system” is among the interventions that DepEd is implementing to address overcrowding in some National Capital Region (NCR) schools. “To help alleviate congestion in some schools, a busing system is being introduced in certain areas,” he said.

In Valenzuela City, for instance, 140 students from Malinta Elementary School – Pinalagad Annex will be transported daily to Caruhatan West Elementary School in DepEd vans. “The local school board will shoulder fuel expenses for the entire school year,” he said. “Other DepEd divisions are exploring similar arrangements,” he added.

Meanwhile, DepEd NCR was instructed by the Central Office to “temporarily discontinue” the planned implementation of the three-day a week schedule which supposedly will start on June 2.

Last week, DepEd NCR Director Luz Almeda announced that certain schools in Caloocan City might be implementing the said program to address overcrowding in at least four public schools. DepEd Caloocan Superintendent Rita Riddle even issued Division Memorandum No. 68 series of 2014 dated May 13 which contained “implementation techniques and guidelines for the 3-day school week.” However, DepEd came under fire because of the proposal. Thus, it decided that the three-day a week proposal should be put “on hold pending further study.”

TEACHER’S DEMAND

Meanwhile, a group of teachers are expected to conduct a protest action on the first day of classes to demand salary increase.

Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) National President Benjie Valbuena said “sustained and escalating mass actions” will be simultaneously launched in different parts of the country for the month of June. He explained that members in NCR and Southern Tagalog will troop to Malacanang while Bacolod, Ozamis and Davao chapters will have their own protests actions. “Aside from these, all our regional chapters will be holding a ‘black arm-band wearing’ in their respective schools to symbolize our resolve for this legitimate and just demand,” he added.

Valbuena reiterated that the group still intends to conduct a “mass leave” if their demand for salary increase is not included in the budget proposal for next year. “Our planned mass leave is imminent to happen anytime,” he said.

Earlier, Luistro announced that DepEd “will not object to any measure that will help public school teachers.” This, however, is “as long as there is adequate funding, a raise in teachers’ salaries will be welcome.”

Teachers under the ACT are demanding that their basic salary be increased from P18,549 to P25,000 per month and that of the Non-Teaching staff to P15,000 from P9,000 per month. Aside from salary increase, ACT called on the DepEd “to immediately resolve the shortage of teachers, classrooms, chairs, facilities, books and other instructional materials by increasing the budgetary allocation for education.”

Meanwhile, Mateo said while DepEd “recognizes the right of teachers to raise concerns publicly,” it is also their duty to ensure that the learning of the students are not compromise. “We need to protect the rights of the child to learning,” he stressed.

For teachers’ salary increase, Mateo said that DepEd does not decide on the salary grade or rate since that is done in Congress. “We’re not against raising their salaries, it’s not just our decision to make,” he ended.

‘BAYANIHAN’ CALL

Meanwhile, Malacañang has called for “bayanihan” to ensure safe and orderly opening of classes today.

The Palace also pledged to build more classrooms and hire more teachers in a bid to improve the country’s education system.

Presidential Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. affirmed that education and police authorities have been mobilized to make sure the first day of classes will run smoothly but asked the public to help, too.

Echoing an earlier statement by Luistro, Coloma said public school officials must not collect any fees as a requirement for enrollment of the students.

Coloma said the Philippine National Police would launch a comprehensive program to ensure the safety of students this school year.

He said policemen will not only check the smooth flow of traffic but will be on the lookout for criminal elements, including thieves who may prey on the students. The PNP has already established police assistance desks in various areas, he added.

Meantime, the improvement of the education sector will remain one of the priorities of the Aquino government.

Around 33,194 new teachers will be hired for this school year by the education department, according to Coloma. An additional 1,500 education personnel will also be employed this year.

Coloma said the education department also plans to build 43,183 classrooms this year to accommodate more students in line with the implementation of the K-to-12 senior high school program. Around 9,502 classrooms will also undergo repair, apart from those damaged during the onslaught of super-typhoon “Yolanda.”

At least 1.59 million armchairs will be distributed in schools while 10 more library hubs will be built across the country, according to Coloma.

He noted that the budget of the education department has reached P335.4 billion under the 2014 national budget, the biggest allocation among government agencies.

The Constitution mandates that education must have the highest priority in the national budget. (With a report from Genalyn D. Kabiling)

FROM PHILSTAR

Palace says classroom shortage a continuing challenge By Aurea Calica (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 1, 2014 - 12:00am 2 11 googleplus0 0

MANILA, Philippines - As hundreds of students return to school tomorrow, the government said that addressing classroom backlog and other needs of the education sector is a continuing challenge.

Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. explained yesterday that the government is not misleading the public into believe that there are no more problems with school facilities and supplies when citing the Department of Education’s success in solving the 66,000-classroom backlog after Education Secretary Armin Luistro and the Aquino administration assumed office in 2010.

Coloma said under Luistro, 66,213 classrooms were built, more than the target. But this accomplishment must be taken vis-a-vis the disasters that hit the country like the Zamboanga City siege, the strong earthquake in Bohol and Cebu and Super Typhoon Yolanda.

Many classrooms were destroyed while some suffered from natural wear and tear. Add to these factors the new educational requirements under the K-12 program, which made kindergarten compulsory under the law, he explained.

“This means the growth of the education sector is dynamic,” Coloma said, noting the growing number of students who need to be accommodated each year.

He said the number of students is not stagnant because the country’s population is very young and naturally, the requirements for classrooms, textbooks, school tables and chairs and other needs of the education sector would increase.

This is the reason why the government has expanded its conditional cash transfer program to include not only the elementary education but also the secondary education of young beneficiaries, he added.

Coloma explained that the government’s response might not be perfect but everything in the education sector is being looked into, including the repairs needed in higher education institutions, and the 2015 budget would take into consideration all the needs of public schools.

FROM THE MANILA BULLETIN

No more classroom shortage – DepEd by Ina Hernando Malipot May 31, 2014

Manila, Philippines — Don’t be surprised if you find some students holding classes under the trees this coming school year and yet the Department of Education (DepEd) will insist that there is no classroom shortage.

DepEd, the government agency tasked to provide basic education, has its own definition of classroom shortage.

DepEd Assistant Secretary and Spokesman Tonisito Umali explained that classroom shortage is not applicable in schools where there is no more buildable space. “When you say there’s shortage, you need to build classrooms but how can you build, even if you have funds, if you don’t have the space?” he stressed.

Yesterday, Umali categorically said that there will be no more classroom shortage in the coming school year.

“We want to categorically state DepEd has already addressed classroom shortage,” said Umali. He added that DepEd has continuously been making interventions in the previous years “to address the classroom shortage nationwide” and to achieve the ideal ratio of classroom to student at 1:45.

Palace on shortage

While DepEd claims that there will be no classroom shortage this coming school year, Malacañang has a different take.

Malacañang clarified that when it says that there is “no more classroom backlog,” it is only referring to the shortage of classrooms left by the Arroyo administration in 2010.

Presidential Communication Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr., in an interview with government radio dzRB, explained that when the Aquino administration began its term in 2010, it inherited a classroom backlog of more than 66,000 from the previous administration.

However, DepEd Assistant Secretary Jesus Mateo said that 66,813 classrooms had already been constructed as of December 2013 to address the 2010 backlog. “The classrooms, which range from one-story structures to multi-floor buildings, were constructed using national and local government funds and donations from private sector,” he explained.

However, Coloma said that this does not mean that the country no longer has a classroom shortage.

Calamities like “Yolanda” in the Visayas and the powerful quake in Bohol last year as well as the Zamboanga siege which destroyed some school buildings had created fresh needs for classrooms, Coloma said.

Add to this the “natural wear and tear” of present school buildings and the additional requirement for classrooms because of the implementation of the compulsory kindergarten and the K-to-12 curriculum, again created the need for more classrooms as well as textbooks and chairs, he further explained.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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