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Saturday, May 25, 2024

Classes start, but same woes greet schools

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 SCHOOL OPENING BLUES. Teachers and their students at the Corazon C. Aquino Elementary school in Quezon City attend the traditional national anthem ceremony on their first day of classes on Tuesday, while a boy couldn’t help but cry as a teacher tries to comfort him. Manny Palmero and Norman Cruz

The perennial problem of classroom shortage exacerbated by floodings brought about by recent typhoons and intense monsoon rains greeted some of the 22.7 million learners who returned to public schools yesterday.

At the Doña Damiana de Leon Elementary School in Calumpit, Bulacan, atleast 700 students were packed into only eight classrooms as 25 rooms remained flooded, ABS-CBN News reported. With four shifts, students were sent home with modules to compensate for shorter class hours.

Calizon Elementary School officer in charge Raul Musni said they lacked chairs, learning modules, and books as some were destroyed by floods.

In the Bicol region, some 17 schools are still being used as evacuation centers since June this year due to the eruption of the Mayon volcano, Education Assistant Secretary Francis Bringas said.

Bringas, however, clarified that the evacuees do not occupy the entire school premises and that there are still available classrooms for learners.

During a hearing of the Senate committee on basic education last week, the DepEd said the Philippines faces an alarming shortfall of 159,000 classrooms.

The DepEd presented data showing that about half of all 7,520 existing senior high school classrooms are congested, as are 41 percent of the 10,188 junior high school classrooms and 32 percent of primary school (K-6) classrooms.

The department, however, will only get P10 billion for classroom construction in 2024, which will cover only about 7,100 classrooms.

While grappling with classroom shortage, the DepEd said it will strictly implement the directive of Education Secretary Sara Duterte to keep the classroom walls bare, adding that teachers who insist on not complying may face administrative sanctions.

“If they don’t comply, we can always say that it’s a violation of our rules,” DepEd spokesman Michael Poa said in a television interview.

“Having said that, we’re not really looking to penalize our teachers.

If there are those who don’t comply, we will analyze it on a case-by-case basis and maybe speak with the school head to understand what happened before we initiate administrative sanctions,” Poa added.

Meanwhile, the DepEd said it will pilot implementation of the recalibrated and “decongested” Kindergarten to Grade 10 (K-10) curriculum of basic education in at least 20 schools nationwide next month.

Jocelyn Andaya, director of the DepEd’s Bureau of Curriculum Development, said kindergarten and Grades 1, 4, and 7 would be initially covered this school year. See full story online at manilastandard.net)

Andaya said 70 percent of the learning competencies under the current K-10 program have been removed under the new “Matatag” curriculum.

On the other hand, the curriculum review for Grades 11 to 12 or senior high school is underway.

For K-10, learning areas were also reduced from seven to only five:

Language, Reading and Literacy, Mathematics, Makabansa (patriotism), and good manners and right conduct.

Previously, the K-10 curriculum focused on Mother Tongue, Filipino, English, Mathematics, Araling Palipunan (Social studies), MAPEH (Music, Arts, Physical Education, and Health), and Edukasyon sa Pagpapakatao (Humanities).

“One of the issues discovered was that the curriculum was overloaded with too many lessons or subjects. The curriculum required instructors to teach an excessive number of learning competencies—with very limited time available for instruction,” Duterte said earlier.

“Both teachers and learners were overburdened with lessons and other school tasks and activities. The result was devastating for our learners. It compromised their mastery of fundamental skills such as reading and solving simple math problems,” she added.

Under the phased implementation of the Matatag Curriculum, Grades 2, 5 and 8 will be covered in the school year 2025 to 2026; Grades 3, 6 and 9 in SY 2026 to 2027; and Grade 10 in SY 2027 to 2028.

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