Pack ‘em all in

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Sunday, July 6, 2014

EDUCATION is viewed as a vital determinant for one’s social mobility and economic growth. It is a key to success, and so, children should go to schools to learn and make basic moral choice in life. A good school program would have a great impact to a child’s development.

The education here is governed by three government institution, the Department of Education (DepEd), Commission on Higher Education (Ched), and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda).

It is the DepEd that manage both public and private education in all levels with its mission to provide the children “a quality education that is equitably accessible to all by the foundation for lifelong learning and service for the common good.”

The Government of the Philippines allocates a high budget every year for education as it guarantees that every Filipino citizen has the right to quality education--no question for that. However, one cannot help but ask why education here seems destitute?

“Sige ra ta ug istorya ani’g quality education pero wala nila lantawa ang kahimtang sa mga estudyante sa eskwelahan. Aside sa ginatudlo nila na subjects sa mga bata, mas maayo kung ilaha pud tagaan pagtagad kini bang school facilities, libro ug uban kinahanglan sa eskwelahan (We always talk about quality education but no one is looking at the situation of students in their schools. Aside from the curriculum, authorities should look at the facilities, books, and all other that are needed in school),” said Mrs. Reme, 63, of 27-A Bucana.

Making the rounds one sunny day in Magallanes Elementary School (MES) in Davao City, this 63-year-old woman was checking a class schedule and an announcement written on a yellow paper posted outside a kindergarten classroom.

The announcement said: Attention Parents! Sugod ugma ang atong bag-ong schedule sa ato-ang klase sa buntag mao kini (Starting tomorrow our morning class would start at) 7:30 to 11:00 a.m.. Pls. Parents be guided accordingly. Thank you!

Aside from the class schedule, also posted outside the kindergarten room, were announcements for additional school requirements, names of those who have not yet submitted their birth certificates, assignments for the following day (there was even a temporary assignment), and some reminders.

But what bothers Mrs. Reme are the regular changes in class schedule, that there are no permanent classrooms, and no permanent teacher. There are 35 kindergarten students in a class, may it be morning or afternoon session, while the elementary has 55 to 60 students per class.

“Since June 2 hantod karon wala jud klaro asa ang classroom sa akong apo. Sige lang ni sila balhin-balhin ay, usahay didto sa gym ang klase nila. Halos na tuyok na lagi namo ning skwelahan. Mao pay half-day ra ang klase… ambot ba kaha naa ba ni natun-an akong apo (Since June 2, my grandchild has not had a permanent classroom. They move from one place to another, sometimes they even hold classes in the gym. We have occupied almost all spaces in campus. I don’t know if my grandchild has learned anything),” Mrs. Reme said.

“Ni-a pay teacher na maglibog ta kung kinsa jud adviser. Naa unta ko papirmahan kay member ko sa 4Ps’ ba unya dili mapirmahan-pirmahan kay muana ra man pud ang teacher: ay nay dili ko ka pirma niana kay dili ra ba ako ang adviser. Sige ngayo requirements maayo unta magamit, ambot na lang jud (They also do not have a class adviser. I needed to have my document for signed by the class adviser for the government’s conditional cash incentive program but the teacher would always say she is not the right person to sign it since she is not the class adviser. All they do is ask for some requirements and I’m not even sure if the children are using these),” she added.

This is among the major issues in education that the government must address the quality of education. It was earlier reported that poor school facilities, overcrowded classrooms, poor teachers’ performances, and failure to effectively respond to the needs of the students have affected the quality of education.

The poor results from standard entrance test taken by the elementary and secondary students as well as the tertiary levels show how the quality of education in the country declined for the past few years all because of the situations above.

“Kung makaya lang lagi nako ang gastos, i-private school nako ni akong apo uy ngano man magmantener diri na asta na daghana sa estudyante, pero saon ta man kapos pud mi. Magdaghan jud ang estudyante, hilabi na tong mga gikan sa private mamalhin sa public sa kamahal ba naman tuition (If only I can afford it, I’d send my grandchild to a private school. There are just too many children in a classroom and the school population keeps on increasing since many children from private schools are being transferred to public schools because of high tuition),” Mrs. Reme said.

Ten-year-old Ina, a grade five student and resident of S.I.R Matina, said this is her fourth year in MES since she transferred from a private school. She recalled her first day at MES when she saw the big difference between her former school and where she is now.

“Pansin nako advance ang private schools kumpara sa public schools, though pare-parehas lang lessons, tapos kompleto ang books sa dating school and whole day ang klase, kaso sa private halos kada lihok mo, gastos jud. Okay naman lang pud ko diri na half-day ang klase. Enjoy man pud (Although the lessons are the same, the methods in private schools are more advanced, and we had classes for one whole day. Except that, it seems like every move you make in a private school, you will have to spend. I’m enjoying it here even if we only have half-day classes),” Ina said.

Based on a class programs posted outside the classrooms, the morning class starts at 6:20 a.m. and ends at 12:10 p.m. except for Wednesdays and Thursdays, during Edukasyong Pantahanan at Pangkabuhayan (EPP) and Musika, Sining, at Edukasyon sa Pampalakas ng Katawan (MSEP), when their classes end at 4:20 p.m.

“Sa amo ra na nga schedule. Sa uban like kung hapon ang klase mag-start 12:10 p.m. tapos mahuman na 5:30 to 5:45 p.m.. Kanang hapon ang klase, ilang EPP ug MSEP kay mag start alas 9 a.m. up to 11:20 a.m. Depende ra sa schedule sa room unsa adlaw na (That’s just our schedule. Others have different schedules. Like those whose classes start at 12:10 p.m., they end at 5:530-5:45 p.m. and their EPP and MSEP starts at 9-11:20 a.m.),” 10-year-old Angel, grade five, of Piapi, said.

The morning class has the schedule to discuss Character Education for 20 minutes, Filipino for 60 minutes, Science and Health for 60 minutes, Mathematics for 60 minutes, English for 60 minutes, and Hekasi for 40 minutes. Ten minutes is allotted for the flag ceremony, a 20-minute recess time, and a 10-minute remediation.

The afternoon shift has the same minutes of class except that other remedial instruction is Monday and Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. Then 200 minutes class on EPP and MSEP every Thursday and Friday, or Wednesday and Thursday.

A 34-year-old father who asked not to be named said that he finds his sixth grade son’s schedule unacceptable but he cannot do anything about it. Still he chose MES because he believes the school has a good reputation.

“Bahala na lang ng class schedule nila, saon ta man nga nagadaghan man jud ang estudyante, di man pud na pwede pugngan kay ako isip ginikanan, ang ako pud makalampos akong anak. Ug makaafford lang lagi ug private saon na diri ra man jud taman. Ang importante naay makat-unan ang bata (We just have to live with the schedule, we can’t do anything about it because more and more students have to be accommodated. As a parent, all I want is my child to finish schooling. I wish I can afford a private education, but I can’t. My only concern is that my child learns),” Mr. Rian said.

According to the Philippine Constitution, the government is mandated to allocate the highest proportion of its budget to education. However, the country was reportedly has one of the lowest budget allocation to education due to several issues like corruption.

Indeed, education remains one of the greatest challenges in the Philippines.

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