PERENNIAL problems in public school like shortage of classrooms and teachers still exist and were experienced in last Monday’s opening of classes. Mind you, this has been happening since time immemorial. Government has failed to solve the problems confronting our public education system.

Now comes the implementation of the K to 12 program that might further complicate the already complicated system. Imagine, the schools opened but Department of Education (DepEd) officials said they need 4,000 more teachers in Region 7 alone and are still recruiting. Why didn’t the department address the problem before the opening of classes?

Because of the lack of classrooms, the “shifting” scheme was implemented. In the morning, students and teachers have to report to the school as early as 5:30 so they can start their classes at six until 12 noon. Another shift starts from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. For secondary education, a night shift is being offered for working students.

I pass by the Lahug Elementary School every morning going to the GMA 7 broadcast complex in Nivel for my early morning radio program. I pity the students. They fall in line at the school gate as early as five a.m. carrying their heavy bags.

Imagine their daily misery. Had classrooms been enough, I think it would have been convenient for them to report at around seven with classes starting at eight until late afternoon.

We have also to consider the teachers. They stand in front of the students for more than eight hours and they only get so much pay. It's a big sacrifice on their part. My heart bleeds for them because I have three sisters and a brother working in government schools.

In Sapangdaku, a mountain barangay in Cebu City, teachers are holding classes at the barangay hall after their school building was condemned for being in a calamity-prone area. Note that there are almost 400 students enrolled there.

They have been holding classes there for almost two years because government failed to provide a decent building for them. Where are DepEd and the city government? Why didn’t they solve this problem? Can we achieve quality education when students are inside small and cramped classrooms?

Where is DepEd’s huge budget? Section 5, Article 14 of the 1987 Constitution provides that “the State shall assign the highest budgetary priority to education and ensure that teaching will attract and retain its rightful share of the best available talents through adequate remuneration and other means of job satisfaction and fulfillment.”

DepEd has the biggest budget, bigger than those of the defense and interior and local governments departments where the armed forces and the police belong, respectively. Yet public school teachers are complaining that they still receive low pay. Where did the money go?

Now we have the K to 12 program. This will complicate the setup and will be an additional burden to parents who will shoulder the expenses of their students for the two additional levels. Also, DepEd has yet to resolve the large gap in the student to classroom ratio in public schools. Yet it wants to push through with the addition of two years in the school curriculum starting in 2016.

Filipinos are copy cats. We copy what other countries implement. Because we are the only Southeast Asian nation that hasn’t adopted 12 years basic education, we are now adding two years to the 10 years basic education.

What's wrong with the previous educational system? Six years in elementary, four years in secondary and four or five years in college depending on the course a student is enrolled in.

Under this setup, we produced great leaders and geniuses. So why change it? Our students even in the elementary level can already speak better English compared with students of other nationalities.

Our nurses and graduates of medical and technical courses are in demand in the Middle East. We have successful international seamen and pilots. We can compete in anything even in science and technology and in sports. We have many scientists. Given the chance and enough funding, we can send our own rockets and spacecrafts into outer space.

Pagkadaghang bright nga mga Pinoy ah. Wala lang tay pundo pagpalambo sa atong talento kay gikurakot sa mga pulitiko.

(bobby.nalzaro@yahoo.com)