MANILA (UPDATE) – Thousands of students in one of the Philippines' largest schools prepared to hold classes in shifts as persistent problems of classroom and teacher shortages welcomed 27 million pupils at the start of the school year on Monday.
At the CAA Elementary School in Las Piñas City, home to 12,000 students, some grade levels will hold classes in 3 shifts, each 4 hours long. There is 1 teacher for every 55 students, an improvement from a gap as wide as 1 teacher for every 73 students in past years, school officials said.
For school year 2019 to 2020, 27.21 million will go to school, up from 27.01 million in the previous school year, according to the Department of Education.
At CAA Elementary, school officials contend with parents who insist on accompanying their children all the way to the classrooms, said the principal, Anelida Hebra.
At the Benigno Aquino Jr. Elementary School in Manila, the school grounds were fumigated during the summer break to prevent the spread of mosquito-borne diseases, said master teacher Lolita Akim.
In earthquake-hit Porac, Pampanga, Aeta children will hold classes in makeshift classrooms.
Lack of classrooms also forced pupils at the Don Manuel Abella Central School in Cararayan, Naga City to attend classes at the school pavilion.
In Benguet, education officials scouted for new sites after 14 schools were found to be inside landslide-prone areas. At the Pacalso Elementary School, classes are suspended during rains because of cracked walls.
The Alliance of Concerned Teachers held a rally in Manila’s Mendiola district to protest educators' low wages. An entry level teacher earns about P20,000 a month.
“Some 800,000 teachers suffer due to very low pay that is unable to afford them a decent life," ACT Secretary-General Raymond Basilio said in a statement.
DepEd hotlines are open to address concerns in schools, said Education Sec. Leonor Briones.
“Given our continuously increasing population and the challenges that we have to hurdle, we are increasing our efforts to deliver quality, accessible, relevant, and liberating basic education,” Briones said in a statement.
- reports from Raphael Bosano, Justin Aguilar, Jeff Canoy, Lady Vicencio, Gracie Rutao, and Jorge Cariño, ABS-CBN News