THE opening of classes on Monday turned out to be generally smooth despite sporadic reports of some of the usual problems that crop up when 23 million children and teens resume their schooling.
Education Secretary Armand Liustro said the Department of Education (DepEd) was much better prepared for this year’s school opening than last year.
The DepEd estimated that 23 million students would go back to their 46,624 public elementary and high schools around the country. DepEd also estimated around three million enrollees in private kinder, elementary and secondary schools based on enrolment figures in the previous school year, which was 2.931 million.
In Metro Manila, the number of students enrolled in public schools was pegged at two million.
Despite the big number of students going back to public and private schools, schoolyear opening day nationwide went on smoothly.
Traffic never came to grinding halt in Metro Manila, while the heavy rains that the weather bureau predicted would greet school opening did not materialize.
The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) deployed additional traffic enforcers to make sure vehicular flow in the metropolis went well.
While the opening of classes was generally smooth, there were still complaints of classroom shortage in some parts of the country, of students being refused enrolment, and what have you. These complaints were, however, very much less than last year.
The generally smooth opening of classes can be attributed to the proactive stance of Secretary Luistro who put into place Oplan Balik Eskwela 2015 (OBE) to ensure assistance to anyone in difficulties related to the opening of classes.
Under the Oplan, an Information and Action Center Task Force was established at the Bulwagan ng Karunungan, DepEd Complex, Meralco Avenue, Pasig City to provide information, handle complaints and serve as a routing mechanism to students, parents, and teachers nationwide. The information and action center will started to operate on May 25 and will be open until Friday June 5.
Prior to the opening of classes for this school year, DepEd Assistant Secretary for Planning Jesus Mateo said the number of schools implementing three shifts had gone down from 451 in 2011 to only 15 this year for the elementary level. For the high school level, the number of schools with three shifts was also reduced from 53 to four.
This early too, DepEd is preparing schools that are directly above or near the West Valley Fault Line to find ways to get affected teachers and students to be more prepared for any eventuality. Preparedness training will be be a continuing exercise.
There are, however, some factors that also contributed to the generally orderly opening of classes on Monday. One of these is that some private schools have moved the opening of their classes to July or August, particularly the University of Santo Tomas. There are also some private schools that will open their doors to students next week.
Nonetheless, Sec. Luistro and the whole DepEd should be given a pat on the back for their no-nonsense approach to the opening of classes.
We have also learned of some other pieces of great news about the Education department. We will write about them in this space in the near future.