MY TWO sons are in the public school system, in one of the special schools created nationwide for the mentally capable. Both graduated in the elementary grades in a private school run by nuns, but the choice of a secondary school was a no-brainer. Tuition was not getting lower, and we needed to limit the monthly expenses. Besides, we have faith in those special schools that admit only top graduates in elementary schools within their jurisdictions.
I remember bringing the older one to the Cebu City National High School campus in Labangon for the qualifying exams. Upon seeing the wide grounds, buildings and greenery, he told me, “Anhi lang ko eskwela, Pa.” I considered that a good sign and while he only managed to land in the reserved list (for those who are waiting for any one of those who passed the qualifying exams to pull out and enrol elsewhere), I believe that helped intensify his determination to pass the exams.
I studied for a few months myself in that campus, back in the day when it was struggling to become a relevant fixture in the public school system. I was in the third batch, which means that the school had still to produce a graduate. Unlike today when members of the graduating classes in private schools were allowed to take the qualifying exams, in the old days only the top 10 percent of the graduating students in elementary schools in Cebu City were allowed to participate. I managed to land fourth in that exam.
In this special school setup, the Department of Education can be daring. Before I quit in my first year in high school, I went through subjects that included two that had sessions that lasted two hours (science and mathematics) two times a week. We gobbled algebra books like our lives depended on them. And here’s the best part: we received allowances for books and other expenses.
But those were different times. Cebu City is no longer the sole host to a special science school. My son eventually shifted directions, and we agreed to his decision to enrol in Minglanilla Science High School instead. Considering traffic, Labangon is too far from our residence and the routine he had to adapt to while studying too burdensome. But Labangon has a better campus and better environment for study.
The Minglanilla Science High School campus is cramped, more so after the Department of Education implemented the K to 12 program and Senior High School. The promise of an additional school building, made many times since the older son enrolled in Grade 7, never materialized. He is now in Grade 12.
I could just imagine the adjustments made by the younger son because of the very small room for study (his room is only half the size of a regular school room). When I visited him the other day, I saw the teacher in a nearby room virtually surrounded by students because even the space in front that would have allowed the teacher to move was occupied by students. Sad.
So until when will Minglanilla Science High School endure?