THE opening of classes for school year 2017-2018 was generally smooth and orderly, the Department of Education (DepEd) announced on Monday.
Education Secretary Leonor Briones said the opening of classes in most public schools went smoothly, except in the cities of Iligan and Cagayan de Oro in southern Mindanao.
Thousands of students have migrated to these cities because of ongoing clashes between government forces and the terrorist Maute Group.
“While it is early to tell, the signals are already visible. The enrollment process is generally peaceful, and the turnout is, as hopefully as expected and our projections, are becoming reality because we have prepared for that,” Briones told reporters in a news briefing at the sidelines of school opening monitoring at Corazon C. Aquino High School in Baseco, Port Area, Manila.
“Out teachers have prepared for this [school opening]very thoroughly . . . they had dry runs so the teachers were already practiced . . . they went on with the process. So during the pre-enrollment, they [teachers]already knew how many students will be coming in. They already knew in advance that there are students from Marawi City [capital of Lanao del Norte province]who will come in and will enroll in their schools,” the DepEd chief said.
The Education department, however, admitted that overcrowding or lack of classrooms was the main problem in some public schools in Metro Manila.
“What is happening is that there is no buildable space in the National Capital Region [NCR or Metro Manila]. There is really a serious lack of buildable space in the metropolitan areas,” Briones said.
The DepEd chief added that her agency is considering building high-rise school buildings because of the increasing enrollment.
“We cannot stop the inevitable rise in enrollment. We are thinking in terms of other alternatives because of lack of buildable space,” she said.
According to DepEd-NCR Director Ponciano Menguito, some schools in Metro Manila are still implementing double shifts this school year but noted that majority of them are implementing single shift.
“In fact, 21 percent of our elementary schools and 30 percent of our high schools in Metro Manila are already implementing single shift, while the rest are on double shifts,” Menguito said.
The Education department said about 107,930 classrooms are being constructed.
“As of today, around 55,608 classrooms were already constructed. About 59.1 percent of the classrooms were already completed and the ongoing number of classrooms being constructed is 38.1 percent, and 12 percent to be procured. This is the status for the school building,” DepEd Undersecretary for Administration Alain Pascua said.
Pascua added that the total classroom shortage in Metro Manila is about 18,000.
“This is computed based on ideal situation . . . our ideal situation is one shift. But this 18,000 classroom shortage at the moment if we utilize all the facilities that we have in Metro Manila like some of the classrooms are being divided into two classrooms, using blocking schedules or having two to three shifts, we have no shortage in Metro Manila because of these innovations done by our principals, but in reality there is 18,058 classroom shortage,” he explained.
Meanwhile, the DepEd has postponed the opening of classes in Marawi City for two weeks because of ongoing conflict there.
It said there was an influx of students in the cities of Iligan and Cagayan de Oro and nearby areas, as a result of student migration over the ongoing clashes between government forces and the Maute Group in Marawi City.
The department added that there was an apparent overcrowding in these cities but did not mention if there are students who attended classes under temporary learning spaces.
It said late enrollees in the public schools would be accepted.
“We will be accepting them until the end of this month,” Briones said.
The Education department said that roughly 27 million public and private elementary and high school students nationwide are expected to enroll this school year.
Of the 26.9 million students, 2.8 million are in senior high school (both Grade 11 and Grade 12), while the remaining 24.1 million are Kindergarten to Grade 10 learners, Briones said.
Of that number, 22.8 million are in public schools while the remaining four million are in private schools.