Lack of classrooms remains a drawback as classes open

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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

WHILE schools gear up for the opening of academic year 2014-2015 in June, beginning with the "Brigada Eskwela" program of the Department of Education (Deped) where paints splashed and brooms dashed in all elementary and high schools in the country, schools remain haunted with problems on population management.

On Monday, soldiers, government agencies and their workforce, school alumni, students, and parents worked hand-in-hand in tidying, repairing and repainting schools for the incoming start of classes in June 2, 2014.

However, the number of classrooms waiting for the students is not enough.


For instance, City Central School (CCS), Cagayan de Oro City's biggest primary school, has around 8,000 elementary, kindergarten, and special education (Sped) pupils last school year.

This year, they are expecting to accommodate more because many kids are transferring from private to public schools, said Celso Pagulon, CCS principal.

A CCS school building was razed by fire in 2012 and repairs of the burned building were completed last year. However, until now, the school has not yet acquired a permit of occupancy to use the building.

Pagulon said he would write a letter to ask permission from the DepEd central office to use the building.

In the previous school year, CCS and the government-run Misamis Oriental General Comprehensive High School (MOGCHS) divided their classes into two shifts: morning and afternoon.

Prior to burning down of a CCS’s building, only the lower grades were having the half-day shifts, said Pagulon.

Paguyo added that learning is still not compromised despite the shortened time but that sessions are only rushed. “Teachers have about 360 minutes to teach,” he said.

If finally given the permit to occupy, CCS’s repaired building will be able to provide 50 classrooms, including the city divisions office and a function hall.

CCS has about 207 teachers where each class holds about 45-50 students, Paguyo said.

Last year, MOGCHS have about 8,500 students and is expecting 500 more to enroll this school year. Helen Estrada-Maasin, MOGCHS Values Education department head, said that they will be firm in maintaining the 40-45 students per classroom despite the lack of rooms by managing and controlling the number of enrollees signing up for the school year.

The school is encouraging parents and students to enroll in barangay high schools near their homes for them to also save on fares spent for going to school.

She, however, said that Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor), facilitated by DepEd, would be funding the construction a four-story building with 24 classroom worth P50 million. The building is estimated to be completed by late September or early October this year.

Michael Escobe, a Science and Math teacher at MOGCHS, said the teachers are now preparing their lesson plans, textbooks, and references.

He said it is important for the public schools to cope with the innovations that private schools have to avoid depriving the students of these.

They must also update their strategies in teaching and integrate student reflections in the classroom, he added.

“And facts, malimtan man na, pero and values gyud, dili (And facts can be forgotten but never the values),” Escobe said. “We want the children to become aware of the world.”

He also said that teachers must exhaust all their time and lessons to the children despite the shortened period, noting that time given for a subject does not matter but the efforts pulled to teaching.

“Because not all students will proceed to Grade 7 because of financial issues,” he said.

The teachers at MOGCHS were sent to train on different seminars on the K to 12 curriculum and in handling Grade 9 students, said Estrada-Maasin. They are expecting more trainings to handle senior high if ever be commissioned to accommodate Grade 11 and 12.

She said DepEd still has not commissioned the school to offer senior high yet because the school has no more space to construct another building for the added class.

“Our building space is only enough until junior high school,” she said.

During the Brigada, said Estrada-Maasin, Barangay 29 officials will be supplying two Close Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras for the school before the classes start.

City Savings Bank also donated 50 cans of paints and painting materials to the school, she furthered.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on May 20, 2014.

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