MANILA - Some 20 million students from pre-school to secondary level returned to school on Monday, with some complaining that they had problems transferring from private to public schools.
The Department of Education Command Center said they received complaints and inquiries on transfer requirements of students from private to public schools.
DepEd Assistant Secretary Jesus Mateo said parents who still have financial obligations with private schools are unable to get the required Form 137 or the document which confirms the grade level completed by the transferee.
Mateo said DepEd intercedes by asking the private school to at least provide the public school with a xerox copy of the document so the student can already start his or her classes.
He said the original document and a copy of the student's grades still need to be submitted within the first semester.
Mateo said allowing the student to transfer does not mean the parents can renege on their financial obligations with the private school. The DepEd simply wants to make sure the transferee's schooling is not hampered.
DepEd data showed that since 2011, the yearly number of complaints, reports and other inquiries received by the Deped Command Center the week before the start of classes have consistently gone down.
In 2011, a total of 316 reports/complaints have been filed. But for this year, from May 26 to June 1, only 150 have come in.
Mateo attributed this decline to their successful and early information dissemination campaign on different back-to-school issues.
Aside from transfer concerns, other complaints received by DepEd include questions on school fees and other compulsory contributions such as Boy Scout membership.
In these cases, the DepEd calls the school superintendent to investigate the matter to ensure that the "no collection fee" policy will be strictly enforced.
The Command Center, which started last May 26, is open daily from 7am-6pm, until June 6.
Other Oplan Balik Eskuwela information centers are also open in every region throughout the country.
NO 3-DAY SCHOOL WEEK
The DepEd will not implement a 3-day school week in the National Capital Region (NCR) for school year 2014-2015.
Mateo said the proposal still needs to be studied by the agency.
Other interventions to address congested schools such as bussing and Alternative Delivery Modes (ADM) are being implemented.
Bussing involves the transport of students from a congested school to one with better absorptive capacity.
The education department is in talks with local government units to implement bussing programs for students.
At present, only Valenzuela City has a working arrangement to transport 140 students from Malinta Elementary School-Pinalagad Annex to Caruhatan West Elementary School.
DepEd division and school vehicles will be used for the program. Gas will be shouldered by local school board funds.
Mateo admitted that congestion in classrooms is an urban problem.
"What we have is a distribution problem in urban areas, especially certain areas of NCR...Many schools in the provinces have lower than average ratios and large campuses. The problem with NCR in particular is not an issue on funds but on buildable space. We have the budget for classrooms but no more space for new buildings," he said.
He also said since public schools cannot turn away enrollees, school heads try to plan ahead through early enrollment as early as January.
But sometimes there is a surge in enrollment and they have to improvise, thus the reason for congested classrooms.
SCHOOL OPENING IN YOLANDA AREAS
Mateo also assured that teachers in areas devastated by super typhoon Yolanda last year are ready to work even though some schools have not yet been completely rebuilt.
Temporary learning stations have been erected for students whose schools are still under construction, he said.
"Classes will not be disrupted as much as possible. Whether in new classrooms or temporary spaces, our learners will continue to study. The government policy is to Build Back Better. This means we cannot erect the same old structures. But building better means more time and money," he said.