By Claudeth Mocon-Ciriaco, June 4 2019; Business Mirror

Image Credit to Business Mirror

LACK of classrooms greeted about 27.2 million students who trooped back to school on Monday.

Education Secretary Leonor M. Briones conceded the problem, and attributed it to the increasing population of students every year.

“More than a million learners are added [to] our enrollment every year,” Briones said, stressing the need for more facilities,  books and teachers to be able to cope with the situation.

For economic reasons, Briones added, more students from private schools have transferred to public schools, thus adding to the facilities challenge of the latter.

The Department of Education (DepEd)  said some schools in Las Piñas, Caloocan, Parañaque and Quezon City held two shifts to accommodate students amid the shortage of classrooms.

DepEd Undersecretary Annalyn M. Sevilla also traced the lack of classrooms to “overpopulation”—something being experienced not only in the National Capital Region but also other Metro cities like Cebu and Davao.

To address the problem, Briones said they are eyeing  to build more vertical structures in schools to make the most of the available space.

Sevilla said the current average ratio of a classroom to students is one to 40.

Increasing effort

Given the continuously increasing population and the challenges DepEd has to hurdle, Briones said, “we are increasing our efforts to deliver quality, accessible, relevant and liberating basic education.”

Briones added, “As we pivot from access to quality, we are continuously reviewing our curriculum and developing our learning resources, including our teachers, through the transformation of our National Educators Academy of the Philippines,” she said in a statement as she welcomed the learners on their first day of school.

DepEd and local government officials of Taguig City attended the flag raising at the Signal Village National High School (SVNHS) on Ballecer Street, Central Signal in Taguig City.

After the flag ceremony, Briones inspected the city government’s seven-story, fully air-conditioned 21-classroom building with elevator and roof-deck. The building also houses a MacLaboratory, a Hope Center and other facilities.

“On behalf of the Department of Education, I am honored and pleased to welcome our almost 27.2 million learners from all over the country to the opening of School Year 2019-2020!” Briones said.

“We are also continuously upgrading our facilities by improving their resistance to typhoons and earthquakes,” she added.

Briones also encouraged those who believe in the cause of education to “work together.”

“…Join us in responding to the increasing development requirements of our country, and in creating a better world for the Filipino learners whom we are all sworn to serve,” she said.

Clear roads

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), led by Chairman Danilo Lim, apprehended more than 80 motorists for illegal parking and other various violations that impede the flow of traffic in Quezon City.

Lim ordered the towing of vehicles obstructing traffic flow in the vicinity of Corazon Aquino Elementary School, Batasan Hills National High School in Batasan Hills Quezon City and Ramon Magsaysay High School in Cubao, Quezon City.

“We want to see to it that roads are cleared to ensure the safety of the students walking to and from their schools, and the unimpeded traffic flow in the opening of classes,” said Lim, who started the inspection and clearing operations as early as 5 a.m.

In the first three hours of operations, members of the Special Operations Task Force apprehended 21 unattended vehicles parked illegally; 12 attended vehicles parked illegally; 21 motorcycle riders for not using helmet; three motorists for disregarding traffic signs; and confiscated one fish-ball cart at the sidewalk for obstruction.

Joint operations of the MMDA and the QC Tricycle Regulatory Unit (TRU) also intercepted 20 tricycles for overloading.

During the school inspection, Lim reminded parents and motorists to be cautious in transporting students. “We have seen overloaded tricycles going to schools. The safety of the students should be our first priority and must never be compromised,” said Lim.

Light to moderate traffic greeted Metro Manila motorists on the first day of school year 2019-2020.

But anticipating a slowdown of traffic in the succeeding school days, Lim said more than 2,000 traffic personnel are deployed in areas with a high concentration of students.