A panel in the House of Representatives on Monday night approved a substitute bill that seeks to ensure access of elementary graduates to quality public high school education through the establishment of integrated schools providing complete basic education.
The House committee on basic education, chaired by Rep. Ramon Durano IV of Cebu, approved as substitute, “An Act Ensuring Access To Free Secondary Education By Converting The Public Elementary Schools Into Integrated Schools” authored by Rep. Vilma Santos-Recto of Batangas.
Santos-Recto said the bill seeks to expand existing public elementary schools to become integrated schools which will offer complete basic education, including high school.
The creation of integrated schools will allow elementary graduates, especially from rural communities, to continue their education at lesser cost, especially on travel expenditures.
This will also result in savings for the government as facilities of existing elementary schools may be utilized for use of incoming high school students with only repairs and a few additional classrooms to be constructed, rather than constructing a separate high school in the area, Santos-Recto said.
Section 3 of the unnumbered substitute bill provides that a public elementary school shall be converted into an Integrated School, subject to compliance with several conditions that are applicable.
These conditions include: No public schools offering complete basic education in the catchment area; the number of elementary graduates does not warrant the establishment of a separate public secondary school; there are not enough items for teachers and school heads that would justify the establishment of separate public elementary and secondary schools; there is difficulty in acquiring a school site for the public secondary school; and there are inadequate equipment and resources to support the operation of separate public elementary and secondary schools.
Integrated School as defined in the bill refers to “a public school that offers kindergarten, elementary and junior high school education and has unified instructional program: The IS may be expanded to include a senior high school education, as necessary, to be determined by the Department of Education.
“There has been an alarming increase of elementary graduates who are unable to pursue secondary education because of the limited number of high schools and school facilities accessible within their communities,” Santos-Recto said.
Santos-Recto cited that School Year 2015-2016 data from the DepEd showed there are only 8,159 public secondary schools as compared to 38,688 public elementary schools, which means there is only one public high school for every five elementary schools.
Santos-Recto said the barangays in the country have at least one elementary school compared to high schools which are usually found only in urban centers and populated areas, resulting in 94.5 percent of school-age children enrolled in elementary while only 86.2 percent enrolled in high school.
“Students are in need of an accessible high school within their community. The government should pay immediate attention and address the gross shortage of public secondary schools to reduce the number of out-of-school youths in the country. Establishing more secondary schools will open opportunities for students to access complete basic education at a lower cost and meet the growing educational needs of the youth,” Santos-Recto said.
Santos-Recto said many children in the rural areas are not enrolled in high school due to the shortage of public high schools particularly in rural areas. “Despite basic education being free, students still need to bear the costs for school materials and transportation, among others,” she said.
In the 2011 Annual Poverty Indicators Survey, Santos-Recto said the top reasons of students for not attending school is the high cost of education, far location of schools, lack of schools in the barangay, and lack of transportation.
During the hearing on the measure, Durano said the committee’s accomplishments will be reflected in the overall accomplishment report of the House of Representatives for the first regular session. He acknowledged that many bills were acted upon and approved during the time of his predecessor Rep. Evelina Escudero of Sorsogon.
“I enjoin the members of the committee to continue to deliberate on the merits of the various proposals that would serve our people and be beneficial to the public,” Durano said.
Meanwhile, Sen. Cynthia Villar moved for the passage of 14 bills seeking the creation of multi-species marine hatcheries in the provinces that would pave the growth and development of the fisheries sector and allied industries.
“As you know, the goal of the committee, as well as this representation, is the sustainable growth and development of the agriculture sector and improving the plight of Filipino farmers and fisherfolks,” said Villar, chair of the Committee on Agriculture and Food.
“I believe that the establishment of multi-species marine hatcheries in areas where they can provide the needed benefits to fisherfolks and fishing communities is a positive step in that direction,” also said Villar.
Ten of the bills, House Bill Nos. 4850, 4851, 4852, 4854, 4855, 4857, 4858, 4859, 4860 and 4861 mandate the establishment of multi-species marine hatcheries in Lopez, Atimonan, Gumaca, Tagkawayan, Quezon, Perez, Calauag, Plaridel, Guinayangan and Alabat in Quezon Province, respectively.
Three other bills, House Bill Nos. 4848, 4853 and 4856 mandate the establishment of multi-species marine hatchery in Bislig, Barobo and Hinatuan in Surigao del Sur, while HB 4862 mandates the establishment of multi-species marine hatchery in Ligao, Albay.
Villar noted that the Department of Agriculture supports the establishment of marine hatchery facilities as such are considered critical interventions and are specified in the 2016-2020 Comprehensive National Fisheries Industry Development Plan.
“Aquaculture or fish farming is crucial for our food security. There is an uptrend in aquaculture globally. The number of fish now harvested from farms has doubled – nearly tripled – in recent years, and aquaculture is fulfilling nearly half the world’s demand for fish,” Villar added.
According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, aquaculture now provides about 63.6 million tonnes of fish per year, while 67.2 million tonnes come from wild catch.
As early as 2015, farming is expected to surpass fisheries as the main producer of fish. By 2050, UNFAO is predicting that aquaculture will provide 100 percent of fish supply.
Last Congress, 10 laws principally sponsored by Villar were enacted creating breeding farms and hatcheries in different parts of the country, namely; Republic Act 10787 (Lingig, Surigao del Sur), RA 10813 (Jabonga, Agusan del Norte), RA 10825 (Surigao City and Del Carmen, Surigao del Norte), RA 10826 (Kalamansig, Sultan Kudarat), RA 10856 (Bantayan, Cebu), RA 10857 (Virac, Bato, Baras, Gigmoto, Viga, Panganiban, Bagamanoc, San Andres, Caramoan and Pandan in Catanduanes), RA 10858 (Nasipit, Agusan del Norte), RA 10859 (Jose Dalman, Zamboanga del Norte), RA 10860 (Sultan Naga Dimaporo, Lanao del Norte), and RA 10861 (Leyte, Southern Leyte, Biliran, and Eastern and Northern Samar).
Meanwhile, the 1st and 3rd divisions of the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan rejected the request of Napoles to be transferred to the detention facility of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), and instead ordered her moved to the regular Camp Bagong Diwa jail in Taguig. Aguirre II supported Napoles’ plea for a transfer to the NBI.