SCHOOL OPENING: PEACEFUL BUT OVERCROWDED

Classes were held in shifts while corridors, libraries and principals’ offices were used as classrooms in some areas as the school year opened yesterday. Education and police officials reported that the first day of classes was generally peaceful and orderly for almost 21 million public elementary and high school students despite the usual problem of congestion in several Metro Manila schools where some classes have up to 80 students each. “The opening of classes for this year was generally orderly, except for a few schools,” Education Assistant Secretary Jesus Mateo told journalists. Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Alan Purisima said reports from the field showed no significant untoward incident. Mateo said the Department of Education (DepEd) command center received 150 reports or complaints from May 26 to June 1, which was lower than the 316 reported during the same period in 2011. Among the complaints and inquiries were those involving school fees and policies, requirements for transfer from private to public schools, and compulsory contributions such as those for Boy Scout membership. Congested classrooms remained a problem in Quezon City and Caloocan City, DepEd-National Capital Region director Luz Almeda said. She said some schools have “overflowing” classes of up to 80 students per classroom. Pupils were divided into morning and afternoon classes and some school facilities like the principal’s office, libraries, and science laboratories and school corridors were converted into classrooms to address overcrowding. Almeda said 82 percent of the 865 public schools in Metro Manila still implement the double-shift schedule due to overcrowding. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO: Schools lack ‘master plan’

President Aquino’s allies and the heads of two House committees on Tuesday revealed that the administration has “no master plan” to address perennial problems on education despite the P11.2 billion allocated for the repair of 17,335 classrooms and 61 state colleges and universities. The absence of a master plan resulted in overcrowding and congestion in schools in the metropolis following the exodus of thousands of students from disaster-stricken areas, according to congressmen Roman Romulo of Pasig and Kimi Cojuangco of Pangasinan. Romulo chairs the House committees on higher education, and Cojuangco heads the basic education panel. At the Ugnayan Forum in Batasan, Romulo, a member of the ruling Liberal Party, and Cojuangco, a stalwart of the Nationalist People’s Coalition, said the government has been misleading the public over the status of classroom backlog after President Aquino himself claimed the 2010 backlog of 66,800 classrooms had been remedied by building 66,813 classrooms. “The 66,800-figure was the backlog recorded in 2010. As of December 2013, the Department of Education said some 66,813 new classrooms had addressed the backlog. So if you look at the figures, it looks like we don’t have a backlog as this is based on 2010,” Cojuangco said. “But the DepEd and Ched refused to make public the actual backlogs in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 when the number of students and migrants increased, particularly when the K-12 program was introduced. We have been trying to get figures from the DepEd what is really the actual backlog because why are there still complaints about lack of classrooms and overfilling of classrooms,” Cojuangco said. READ MORE...

(ALSO) Teachers: Gov’t misleading public on state of schools

Public school teachers yesterday criticized the government for “misleading” the public that it has already addressed shortages in basic inputs as pronounced by the Department of Education (DepEd) earlier. “We disagree with the government’s pronouncement that the system is ready for today’s school opening,” said the Teachers’ Dignity Coalition (TDC) – a 30,000-strong group of teachers. Top DepEd officials earlier flashed the “all systems go” signal for the resumption of classes for School Year (SY) 2014-2015, saying there are “no shortages” in most of the resources in basic education such as classrooms, chairs, and textbooks, and other facilities. “The more correct pronouncement would be, teachers are ready, as we always do,” said TDC Benjo Basas. “Teachers are as excited as the kids during the first day of school, we consider this as a new beginning,” he added. TDC is particularly concerned with the situation of schools affected by the calamities last year particularly the schools in areas hit by super-typhoon “Yolanda.” “There are schools in Samar and Leyte that until now have not rebuilt even a single classroom,” Basas said. “Still, some of them are used as evacuation centers particularly in Tacloban City and Tanauan, Leyte,” he added. Basas said “classroom shortage” becomes a “normal” condition and “it would be worse in the disaster areas.” Thus, he added, that the immediate construction of school buildings is very much needed. “Teachers and children in some schools will hold classes under the trees or in any available space, especially the schools which are not recipients of donations of temporary classrooms from international NGOs,” he said. Despite the reported congestion in some Metro Manila public schools, the DepEd announced that the opening of classes this school year was “generally orderly.” READ MORE...

ALSO: Yellow boats bring hope and education in the Philippines where the school run can be a swim

Hope and education floats in the Philippines. STORY HIGHLIGHTS: Children in remote villages in southern Philippines have to swim to school Families can't afford second boat to ferry children to class Foundation supported by social networks started called Yellow Boats of Hope. School boats and more social initiatives have transformed the prospects of whole villages Editor's note: From the economy and infrastructure to entrepreneurship and development, CNN reports from across the Philippines and the World Economic Forum taking place in Manila May 21- 23. Watch the reports on CNN TV all this week and a special 30-minute show on May 23. (CNN) -- In an age where many school children are ferried to school in their parents' SUV, the idea of having to swim to school over open ocean or wade through muddy mangrove swamps to get to class might seem part of a cruel and long-forgotten past. But in some of the fishing communities near Zamboanga City in the Philippines, swimming half a mile of open water in school uniform while carrying school books tied up in plastic bags on their heads is still a daily reality. CONTINUE READING FULL REPORT


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Peaceful but overcrowded



Classes start at the Culiat Elementary School in Quezon City yesterday. BOY SANTOS

MANILA, JUNE 9, 2014 (PHILSTAR) By Helen Flores - Classes were held in shifts while corridors, libraries and principals’ offices were used as classrooms in some areas as the school year opened yesterday.

Education and police officials reported that the first day of classes was generally peaceful and orderly for almost 21 million public elementary and high school students despite the usual problem of congestion in several Metro Manila schools where some classes have up to 80 students each.

“The opening of classes for this year was generally orderly, except for a few schools,” Education Assistant Secretary Jesus Mateo told journalists.

Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Alan Purisima said reports from the field showed no significant untoward incident.

Mateo said the Department of Education (DepEd) command center received 150 reports or complaints from May 26 to June 1, which was lower than the 316 reported during the same period in 2011.

Among the complaints and inquiries were those involving school fees and policies, requirements for transfer from private to public schools, and compulsory contributions such as those for Boy Scout membership.

Congested classrooms remained a problem in Quezon City and Caloocan City, DepEd-National Capital Region director Luz Almeda said.

She said some schools have “overflowing” classes of up to 80 students per classroom.

Pupils were divided into morning and afternoon classes and some school facilities like the principal’s office, libraries, and science laboratories and school corridors were converted into classrooms to address overcrowding.

Almeda said 82 percent of the 865 public schools in Metro Manila still implement the double-shift schedule due to overcrowding.

“There is a higher percentage of schools with single shift, from the 86 percent double-shift last year now it’s down to 82 percent and we expect it to decline further,” Almeda said.

Almeda said total enrollees in public schools in Metro Manila reached 2,172,576 this year or about .27 percent up from last year.

The DepEd is still open to the proposed three-day school week to help address congestion in public schools in Metro Manila, according to Mateo.

Normal situation

Senior Superintendent Wilben Mayor, spokesman for the PNP chief, said police regional offices 2, 3, 4B, 5, 7, 11, 12, Metro Manila and the Cordillera Administrative Region reported normal situation within their area of responsibility.

The only reported incident was at the Paaralang Elementarya ng Maitim Segundo in Barangay Maitim, 2nd East, Tagaytay, Cavite, where unidentified men took a digital camera worth P12,000 and the canteen’s earnings amounting to P700.

Chief Superintendent Raul Petrasanta, Police Regional Office-3 director, said the opening of classes in private and public schools in Central Luzon was also smooth and peaceful.

Chief Superintendent Reuben Theodore Sindac, PNP-Public Information office director, said they would set up more police assistance desks in Metro Manila and other urban areas complemented with foot and mobile patrols to ensure the safety of students.

“We have already set up 7,441 police assistance desks nationwide so far. This will be a place where both students and parents could go to report any untoward incident,” he said.

He said 18,500 policemen were tapped to secure the class opening for public elementary and high schools.

The PNP is also putting priority on incidents of bullying and street crimes.

Students who are being bullied could immediately seek assistance of policemen detailed at the PAD near their school.

Better this year

Despite the congested rooms, Almeda said the situation is better compared to previous years.

“The shortages in 2010, we’ve already addressed that,” she said following her inspection of the Batasan Hills National High School.

“We’re now having regular classes on the first day. Even the congested classrooms, they were able to handle (the big number of students),” she added.

She said the Batasan Hills National High School, President Corazon Aquino Elementary School and Payatas Elementary School in Quezon City divided their classrooms into two to reduce the size of students.

Batasan Hills principal Diego Amid said they had to divide 41 out of 98 classrooms in the school to accommodate more than 12,870 enrolled students.

The number, touted as one of the highest in the country, is higher than last year’s 12,239.

Amid said they expect the number of enrollees to swell to over 13,000 as they will still accommodate late enrollees.

He said Grade 7 students are using most of the divided classrooms.

No congestion

The Commonwealth Elementary School – one of the largest in the city – did not encounter overcrowding despite having 9,600 students. The school has 76 classrooms, with additional 16 to be constructed within the year.

Principal Rodolfo Modelo said teacher-student ratio is as high as 1:55 in Grades 3 to 6, but the classrooms remain comfortable for students as these were not divided.

The Valenzuela City government has started its busing system to decongest populated schools.

In Valenzuela City, 140 students from Malinta Elementary School-Pinalagad Annex were transported to Caruhatan West Elementary School, Mateo said.

More classrooms needed

Amid said they would need additional classrooms to accommodate the Grades 11 and 12 students with the impending full implementation of the K-12 Program by 2016.

He said enrollment at Batasan Hills National High School might reach over 19,000 once the two new levels are added.

More than 400,000 students are enrolled in Quezon City public elementary and high schools.

Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista had expressed hope that congestion would be addressed with the completion of new school buildings.

New school buildings

At least 140,000 students returned to school in new public school buildings in Taguig City.

A four-story building with 32 classrooms was constructed at the Taguig Elementary School in Barangay Sta. Ana, while a four-story building with 20 classrooms is under construction at Eusebio Santos Elementary School in Barangay San Miguel.

A four-story building with 12 classrooms is also being constructed at Silangan Elementary School while improvements for the four-story school building that will soon house 36 classrooms for students of the Senator Renato Compañero Cayetano Memorial Science High School are ongoing.

DepEd Taguig-Pateros spearheaded the construction of school buildings in Signal Village Elementary School, Signal Village National High School, Upper Bicutan Elementary School, Upper Bicutan National High School, Western Bicutan National High School and Bagumbayan National High School.

Taguig Mayor Lani Cayetano said the local government hired 350 new teachers, in addition to 238 hired by the DepEd.

Earlier, the local government also procured 320 new air-conditioning units to be installed in the city’s 34 public schools.

The Parañaque city government also announced the opening of four new school buildings and the offering of bachelor’s degree courses at the city-funded Polytechnic University of the Philippines.

One of the new school buildings is at Tambo Elementary School, which was inaugurated early this month.

The Barangay Marcelo Green Elementary School, Don Bosco National High School and the Barangay San Isidro Elementary School are also set to open this school year.

Parañaque City Mayor Edwin Olivarez also announced the opening in July of the Parañaque City College, which will initially offer technical and vocational courses.

No traffic jams

There were no reported traffic jams as classes resumed yesterday, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) assistant general manager for operations Emerson Carlos said.

He said the agency was prepared with the deployment of 1,600 traffic constables at the vicinity of various school zones in Metro Manila.

He said the MMDA would deploy additional personnel for next week’s opening of private schools.

Classes suspended in Albay

In Albay, Gov. Joey Salceda has ordered the suspension of classes in 13 public elementary schools in Legazpi City due to the power outage in the past six days.

The rotating power interruption occurred after a transformer at the Bitano station collapsed on May 28.

“The brownout is putting the pupils at risk of getting sick inside classrooms which have no electric fans,” said Salceda.

Agnes Yanson, Legazpi City Schools Division planning officer II, said some 6,600 pupils in public elementary schools, including preschoolers, were affected at Buragwis Elementary School, Dapdap, Puro and Lamba.

Another 4,813 pupils were also affected at the Bogtong Elementary School, Rawis, Bigaa, Arimbay, Bitano, Dita, Bagong Abre, San Joaquin and Padang.

Salary hike

To mark the opening of classes, militant teachers’ group Alliance of Concerned Teachers marched to Mendiola to push for salary increase for teachers.

The group is pushing for increase in entry-level teachers’ salaries to P25,000 a month from the current rate of about P18,000. They also asked the government to increase the monthly pay for non-teaching personnel from P9,000 to P15,000.

The Teachers’ Dignity Coalition (TDC) debunked DepEd’s pronouncement that the government was ready for the resumption of classes and that classroom shortage had been addressed.

“There are schools in Samar and Leyte that until now have not rebuilt even a single classroom. Still, some of them are used as evacuation centers particularly in Tacloban City and Tanauan, Leyte,” Benjo Basas, TDC national chairman, said. – With Cecille Suerte Felipe, Janvic Mateo, Perseus Echeminada, Celso Amo, Mike Frialde, Ric Sapnu, Artemio Dumlao

FROM THE MANILA STANDARD

Schools lack ‘master plan’ By Christine F. Herrera | Jun. 04, 2014 at 12:01am

President Aquino’s allies and the heads of two House committees on Tuesday revealed that the administration has “no master plan” to address perennial problems on education despite the P11.2 billion allocated for the repair of 17,335 classrooms and 61 state colleges and universities.

The absence of a master plan resulted in overcrowding and congestion in schools in the metropolis following the exodus of thousands of students from disaster-stricken areas, according to congressmen Roman Romulo of Pasig and Kimi Cojuangco of Pangasinan. Romulo chairs the House committees on higher education, and Cojuangco heads the basic education panel.

At the Ugnayan Forum in Batasan, Romulo, a member of the ruling Liberal Party, and Cojuangco, a stalwart of the Nationalist People’s Coalition, said the government has been misleading the public over the status of classroom backlog after President Aquino himself claimed the 2010 backlog of 66,800 classrooms had been remedied by building 66,813 classrooms.

“The 66,800-figure was the backlog recorded in 2010. As of December 2013, the Department of Education said some 66,813 new classrooms had addressed the backlog. So if you look at the figures, it looks like we don’t have a backlog as this is based on 2010,” Cojuangco said.

“But the DepEd and Ched refused to make public the actual backlogs in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 when the number of students and migrants increased, particularly when the K-12 program was introduced. We have been trying to get figures from the DepEd what is really the actual backlog because why are there still complaints about lack of classrooms and overfilling of classrooms,” Cojuangco said.

She said the DepEd could not provide the figures because they were still “collating” the data to this day.

Cojuangco and Romulo demanded that DepEd account for the P336.93-billion allocation for 2014.

Of the amount, at least 15.97 percent is allocated to address the backlogs on classrooms, they said.

“For the sake of transparency, the DepEd should provide us the achievement report on what they did to the money,” Cojuangco said.

Romulo said the national government is still in the process of finding open spaces where new schools can be constructed.

“The national government has no master plan. There is just no space for new schools and classrooms in the National Capital Region because the government is just starting to identify open available spaces,” Romulo lamented.

`Romulo also said the P1-billion budget for the repair of 35 SUCs may balloon to P2 billion after the Ched belatedly disclosed that another batch of 26 SUCs were recently validated and found needing repair, bringing to 61 the total of SUCs that had been damaged by disasters across the country.

`Romulo said the repair came only now when the classes already started despite his committee holding weekly hearings since January, when the SUCs submitted their budget requirement for the repair.

FROM THE MANILA BULLETIN

Teachers: Gov’t misleading public on state of schools by Ina Hernando Malipot June 2, 2014

Manila, Philippines — Public school teachers yesterday criticized the government for “misleading” the public that it has already addressed shortages in basic inputs as pronounced by the Department of Education (DepEd) earlier.

“We disagree with the government’s pronouncement that the system is ready for today’s school opening,” said the Teachers’ Dignity Coalition (TDC) – a 30,000-strong group of teachers.

Top DepEd officials earlier flashed the “all systems go” signal for the resumption of classes for School Year (SY) 2014-2015, saying there are “no shortages” in most of the resources in basic education such as classrooms, chairs, and textbooks, and other facilities.

“The more correct pronouncement would be, teachers are ready, as we always do,” said TDC Benjo Basas. “Teachers are as excited as the kids during the first day of school, we consider this as a new beginning,” he added.

TDC is particularly concerned with the situation of schools affected by the calamities last year particularly the schools in areas hit by super-typhoon “Yolanda.”

“There are schools in Samar and Leyte that until now have not rebuilt even a single classroom,” Basas said. “Still, some of them are used as evacuation centers particularly in Tacloban City and Tanauan, Leyte,” he added.

Basas said “classroom shortage” becomes a “normal” condition and “it would be worse in the disaster areas.” Thus, he added, that the immediate construction of school buildings is very much needed.

“Teachers and children in some schools will hold classes under the trees or in any available space, especially the schools which are not recipients of donations of temporary classrooms from international NGOs,” he said.

Despite the reported congestion in some Metro Manila public schools, the DepEd announced that the opening of classes this school year was “generally orderly.”

In a press conference, DepEd Assistant Secretary for Planning Jesus Mateo said the first day of classes, in general, opened “smoothly” except for a few schools where overcrowding remained a problem partly due to the surge of late enrolees coming from private schools. “Marami pa rin tayong late enrollees lalo na galing sa private schools na hindi nakapagpalista nung early enrolment,” he said.

DepEd officials led by Education Secretary Armin Luistro opted to monitor school opening in provinces.

For this SY, DepEd projected that there were around 21 million students who went back to public schools nationwide: with 1,796,566 pupils in kindergarten; 13,324,349 pupils in elementary; and 5,805,047 in secondary.

Despite earlier claims that there is “no classroom shortage” for this school year, Mateo admitted the congestion or overcrowding of students in public elementary and high schools during the first day of classes. “Meron mangilan-ngilan na public schools na may congestion pero kasi hindi naman natin ginusto ito kasi ang overcrowding ang bunga ng walang espasyo na,” he added.

However, DepEd NCR Director Luz Almeda confirmed overcrowding of students in Metro Manila schools is mainly due to lack of classrooms. “Ang karamihan ng problema ay kulang talaga sa classrooms at upuan,” she said in an interview.

FROM CNN

Yellow boats bring hope and education in the Philippines where the school run can be a swim From Peter Shadbolt, for CNN updated 3:42 AM EDT, Tue May 20, 2014


The Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation was the idea of Jay Jaboneta, a socially-minded Filipino blogger.

Hope and education floats in the Philippines

Editor's note: From the economy and infrastructure to entrepreneurship and development, CNN reports from across the Philippines and the World Economic Forum taking place in Manila May 21- 23. Watch the reports on CNN TV all this week and a special 30-minute show on May 23.


The school boat program in Mabate has been one of stand-out successes of the foundation. The school used to have just seven students, but now 150 arrive by boat each day.

(CNN) -- In an age where many school children are ferried to school in their parents' SUV, the idea of having to swim to school over open ocean or wade through muddy mangrove swamps to get to class might seem part of a cruel and long-forgotten past.

But in some of the fishing communities near Zamboanga City in the Philippines, swimming half a mile of open water in school uniform while carrying school books tied up in plastic bags on their heads is still a daily reality.

"Their bags notebooks and papers always get soaked. If we forget to put their things in a plastic bag we have to hang their things out later to dry," said Ruhayna Mawadi, the mother of one of the pupils at Talon Talon Elementary School.

"Many of the children don't graduate and that's very sad and hard for us -- we want them to graduate because it's for their future."

When Filipino blogger Jay Jaboneta, co-founder of Yellow Boat of Hope, learned about the situation on the sidelines of a conference in the southern Philippines province of Mindanao in 2010 he was shocked.

We often hear of kids that skip school to go swimming but here we've got kids swimming so that they can go to school.
WATCH VIDEO: http://goo.gl/yuq58J

"It really disturbed me when I heard about it," said Jaboneta. "Around Zamboanga they had to wade to school from their stilt houses where their parents are seaweed farmers. But when it was high tide, the water was six-feet high and they really had to swim."

Tacloban's small businesses still hurting. He said further investigations revealed even worse conditions than these.


Boats are painted the same color as school buses.

Philippines Economy - The Big Picture

"There's a community in Masbate that lives on a small island where the school is on a big island 300 meters away separated by water that is 30-feet deep. Seven kids had to swim this stretch of water twice a day."

Getting to school at another remote community near Zamboanga del Sur required a three-hour walk around the snake-infested shoreline of a lake, even though the school was just 15 minutes by boat.

Often a family's only boat would be out in open water fishing by 4am and still at sea at around 7am when the children began to go to school.


At low tide the journey to school might only mean wading through mangroves, while other children from nearby Zaboanga del Sur had to embark on a three-hour walk along around a snake-infested lake.

"We heard reports of some children in the past dying simply trying to get to school," Jaboneta said.

WATCH VIDEO: http://goo.gl/yYRIoS

His foundation now provides boats -- painted yellow to mimic the color of Filipino school buses -- for some six communities where the children used to swim to school.

In total, the organization provides educational help to some 30 remote communities isolated by the geography of the Philippines; an archipelago of 7,107 islands.

The foundation is not only an example of a group of concerned citizens coming together to make a difference, but shows the power of social media to effect change.

Jaboneta said the project really sprang up out of one Facebook status he fired off after he heard about the situation at a bloggers' summit in Mindanao almost four years ago.

"I had one friend who contacted me who wanted to give money and it just started to grow from that," he said.

Now the group focuses on a range of issues, from education and medical support to local ecology and sustainability.

It has even branched out into other projects such as Adopt a Fisherman -- a scheme to build up the fishing fleet destroyed by Typhoon Bopha, the super typhoon that devastated Mindanao in 2012.


Swimming, wading was the previous way to school for many.

The school boat program in Masbate, in particular, has been a stand out success for the foundation, where enrollments jumped from the seven exhausted swimmers that used to arrive each morning to 150 pupils that come by boat every day.

He said that that a lot of their funds are now earmarked for adding new classrooms onto the schools.

"This issue is really close to my heart because I wasn't born to a rich or even middle class family -- I struggled when I was growing up -- so it really touched me to see how much these kids really wanted to go to school."

The Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation will soon be able to count a handful of college graduates among the alumni of its school boats program, showing the difference the addition of a simple wooden boat can make to the future of a whole community.

"In Zamboanga, we've got eight students at the state university doing their best to finish college and they'll be the first in their community to ever do that."

He said the project has been an education for many of his friends and colleagues who were raised in cities and communities where getting to school each day was taken for granted.

"Even if it took several hours by bus or even walking it is not as tough as these kids have it," he said.

"We often hear of kids that skip school to go swimming but here we've got kids swimming so that they can go to school."


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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