MANILA - The first day of classes was challenging not only for the millions of students in congested schools all over Metro Manila, but also for teachers who are entrusted with the education of the young.
In Holy Spirit National High School (HSNHS) in Quezon City, where all the rooms are already being used for the classes of around 4,000 students, teachers have been forced to convert 2 comfort rooms into their faculty area.
It is hot and stuffy, but the educators make do.
"Lahat ng rooms namin dito hinati-hati na namin. Yung iisang laboratory namin na medyo malaki, ginawa nang four classrooms. Kaming mga teacher, doon kami sa dating CR. Ang hirap gumawa ng mga lessons kasi 18 kaming nagsisiksikan doon, pero wala namang ibang choice," said teacher Jose Jacinto.
Jacinto said the education of the students is no doubt being affected by the congestion of the school.
Officials say the performance of HSNHS in the National Achievement Test (NAT) has slipped over the years.
Four new classrooms are being built, but it will take a few more months before they are completed.
But Jacinto has an even bigger concern: the potential for a disaster in case of calamity.
"Ang kipot ng mga daaan namin eh, lalo na sa labas ng school. Sana naman hindi mangyari pero pag nagkaroon ng lindol o sunog dito, baka ma-trap kami," he said.
In other schools, teachers are also doing their best despite the scarcity of available resources.
In Corazon Aquino Elementary School, Grade 2 teacher Laeticia Obispo is sweating profusely inside their classroom. Their electric fan is broken, and Obispo was also forced to convert one of their windows into a blackboard because of the awkward dimensions of the room.
"Mahirap pero ok lang. Ito ang trabaho namin eh. Siyempre mahalin namin ang trabaho namin. Yun nga lang, sira nga yung electric fan namin. At dahil hinati nga yung classroom, dito ko linagay yung blackboard para makita ng mga bata," she said.
In the midst of these sacrifices, teachers are hoping that their salaries will be increased so that they may have a more "dignified" living.
The basic salary of a teacher is around P18,000, but between taxes, contributions, and debt, most reveal that they are only able to take home some P4,000 monthly.
"Marami sa mga teachers dito, sir, wala na sa kanila yung ATM nila. Iba na ang humahawak dahil sa utang," Jacinto said.
"Sana madagdagan yung sahod namin alang-alang na rin sa edukasyon ng mga bata, para mas maayos namin silang mapagsilbihan."