THE Capitol promised to send school supplies along with food packs and provide a cash-for-work program to help families hit by El Niño send their children to school.

The Provincial Government is still confirming how many families face this problem, which is challenging school and local government officials in addition to familiar problems like late enrollees and lack of classrooms.

“We will first visit those municipalities that declared their towns under a state of calamity,” said Provincial General Services Officer Jone Siegfred Sepe.

Some 144,000 students turned up in public schools in the cities of Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu when classes opened yesterday. Some schools had to deal with familiar problems like how to fit all students inside classrooms.

Late enrollees showed up in Cebu City’s public schools, but other than that, school officials did not encounter problems.

The Department of Education (DepEd) 7 instructed heads of all schools divisions yesterday to accept late enrollees only until Friday, so they can finalize the number of students and the enrollment rate this school year.

Around 2,937 elementary and 804 secondary schools in the region will be required to submit their master list of students by the end of the week.

First to go

Dr. Arden Monisit, Cebu Provincial Schools Division superintendent, told reporters the opening of classes was generally peaceful and orderly. He said that the Brigada Eskwela helped prevent most problems.

Dr. Juliet Jeruta, DepEd 7 director, said she instructed teachers in the region to monitor their students’ attendance.

She also instructed the region’s division heads to provide updated enrollment data this week.

At the Capitol, Sepe said they began repacking goods yesterday for distribution to families in different towns within the week.

The Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office will determine how many families the dry spell has affected. The Capitol usually stores 1,000 sacks of rice and 1,000 to 1,500 boxes of canned goods and noodles, for repacking and distribution during calamities.

School supplies, Sepe added, will also be given to the families, especially farmers who have children still in school.

Kon magipit gani ang pamilya ang kasagaran ma-sacrifice ang mga notebook (If a family has financial problems, notebooks and other school supplies are the first thing they do without),” he said.

Slow calamity

Capitol will send help in three phases. In the first phase, water, food and school supplies will be distributed.

Water tanks, hoses, jerry cans and water pumps will be purchased and given to farmers during the second phase.

For the cash-for-work program, a family member will be paid for work rendered in building water catchment facilities.

In the third phase, families will be asked to plant fruit trees.

“This is a slow calamity, unlike typhoon Yolanda and the earthquake,” he said.

Cebu Gov. Hilario Davide III said the Capitol has been validating information so that assistance will reach those who are really in need.

Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Officer Baltazar Tribunalo Jr. said the Capitol is helping towns and cities maximize their quick response fund, which can be released as a result of declaring a state of calamity.

New curriculum

He said the Capitol’s assistance will come in and fill gaps in the local governments.

In Cebu City, Schools Division Assistant Superintendent Danilo Gudelosao said that teachers heeded the order to start class discussions immediately, except for those in the lower grades who had to orient their pupils.

Teachers of Grades 1 to 3 classes gave their students a tour of the campus and an orientation on the different areas of the school.

DepEd in Cebu City also did not receive any complaint from Grades 4 and 10 teachers who taught for the first time the new curriculum under the K to 12 program.

“We are closely monitoring Grades 4 and 10 because of the new curriculum, but so far, no problem was encountered because the teachers were trained before the opening classes,” Gudelosao said.

But as expected, some schools entertained late enrollees.

Gudelosao said late enrollment is discouraged, that’s why schools accepted enrollees as early as last January.

“It’s really our frustration because the tendency is that there will be a delay in the learning process of these late enrollees, that is why we have encouraged the parents to enroll early,” he said.

Taking turns

At the Mandaue City Comprehensive National High School (MCCNHS), some sections have to take turns using a classroom.

“This is better than holding our classes inside the gym,” Grade 8 teacher Armi Christine Borinaga, 35, told Sun.Star Cebu.

In previous years, they held some of the classes inside the gym, where they had to endure the heat.

In Lapu-Lapu City, Grade 1 and Grade 2 sections also took turns occupying classrooms in major elementary schools.

“We have to hold classes by shifts because we still lack classrooms,” said Dr. Eduardo Ompad, head of the Department of DepEd Lapu-Lapu City Division.

During the first day of classes, school officials also had to deal with late enrollees.

MCCNHS principal Reina Perez said some students claimed they failed to show up during the regular enrollment period because they were out of town for a vacation.

“No matter how often we remind students of the schedules for enrollment, some will still enroll late,” she told Sun.Star Cebu.

For all

Giovanna Raffiñan, principal of the Mandaue City Central School, said they will accept enrollees even if the classes have started.

“Even if they lack documents or have accountabilities from the previous school year, children can enroll. It’s part of our goal to provide education for all,” she said.

With enough classrooms, Raffiñan said they hope to register more students this school year. The school had 4,567 enrollees in the previous school year.

At least 38,314 students joined the first day of classes in public elementary schools in Mandaue City, as did 16,884 in high schools.

“It was a peaceful opening of classes,” said Dr. Virginia Zapanta, head of the DepEd Mandaue City Division.

Ompad said the first day of classes in Lapu-Lapu City also went without major problems. “We got help from the barangays and the police,” he said.

At least 62,246 elementary pupils and 27,150 high school students went to school yesterday in Lapu-Lapu.