Packed schools; transferees from Yolanda-hit areas expected-A A +A
Sunday, June 1, 2014
CEBU - Public elementary and secondary schools in Central Visayas are all set to welcome about 1.7 million pupils and students when classes open today, Monday.
The Department of Education (DepEd) 7 said it is “100 percent ready” to welcome learners today in all its 19 divisions, despite the challenge of coping with a possible increase in enrollees and the familiar lack of classrooms, especially in areas affected by recent calamities.
Dr. Carmelita Dulangon, DepEd 7 director, said she expected enrollment in public schools to rise by two percent this year. Last year, about 1.6 million students enrolled in public schools in the region.
She attributed the possible increase to the campaign to get more out-of-school youth back to school and the entry of enrollees in the Alternative Learning System (ALS).
Transferees from private schools may also add to the numbers, Dulangon added. At least 197 private schools in the region have received approvals to raise their tuition this school year.
The DepEd 7 currently has 44,000 teachers.
Dulangon said the agency is set to hire 3,425 new teachers this year to address a shortage in some school divisions. They will have to wait until the end of the week, when all the students shall have enrolled, to determine how many additional teachers are needed.
In case the number of teachers cannot handle the number of enrollees this year, DepEd is considering the option of hiring locally-hired teachers or teacher aide volunteers (TAVs).
While the practice of hiring of TAVs was discouraged last year, some LGUs in Central Visayas have sent letters to persuade Education Secretary Armin Luistro to let them hire teachers to address a shortage.
Dulangon said that in Cebu Province, the City of Naga has expressed its intention to hire TAVs. But Luistro, as secretary, has the power to let LGUs hire TAVs, he added.
Dulangon said that LGUs have been discouraged against hiring TAVs and advised to spend their funds on building new classrooms.
For his part, Talisay City Schools Division Superintendent Woodrow Denuyo said that the division will no longer hire locally-funded teachers this school year.
Denuyo made the announcement following the complaints of 120 TAVs who claimed they weren’t prioritized in the hiring of new teachers.
But Denuyo clarified that Talisay City currently has enough teachers, with 1,200 teachers now employed.
Aside from the availability of school teachers, the lack of classrooms will also challenge DepEd yet again.
The Cebu Provincial School Division is set to construct 149 classrooms in public schools damaged by typhoon Yolanda last year.
But Dr. Arden Monisit, Cebu Provincial Schools Division Superintendent, said that close to 500,000 students under the division will have to attend classes in makeshift classrooms.
Construction of the new classrooms is scheduled to start in August yet.
In an interview over radio DyHP during the weekend, Monisit revealed that the bidding for the new classrooms ended last month and they are awaiting the Special Allotment Release Order (SARO) from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) for the release of funds.
The 149 new classrooms will only be the first batch, Monisit said.
He said he is expecting a five to 10 percent increase in enrollees today, as some students from typhoon-ravaged areas in Leyte and Samar will enroll in public schools in Cebu.
Meanwhile, the police discouraged parents from letting their children bring expensive gadgets to school, as doing so may lure criminal elements.
Senior Supt. Orlando Oualat, Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 officer-in-charge, said he ordered the maximum deployment of police teams in schools, particularly in crime-prone areas.
Leaflets will also be given to teach the children how to avoid becoming victims of crime.
In the Talakayan sa Isyung Pulis (TSIP) forum of the PRO 7, Oualat said that starting yesterday, the region’s police force was placed on a heightened alert status.
This means that the police are not allowed to file for a leave of absence.
Street crimes such as hold-ups and snatching typically lead the offenses against students and pupils.
“Well, they can bring gadgets as long as they have their own vehicles, but if they commute, it would be much better if they not bring expensive stuff,” Oulat said.
He added that the installation of security cameras in schools, especially near the entrance gate, would help.
In Cebu City, the police will be stationed in the areas of Guadalupe, Sambag 1, Talamban, Colon St. and along Osmeña Blvd. At least 200 police operatives will reportedly be deployed all over the city.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on June 02, 2014.