27 million return to school as lack of classrooms, teachers persist

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 04 2018 08:25 AM | Updated as of Jun 04 2018 10:59 AM

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MANILA - (UPDATED) Some 27.7 million students started the new school year on Monday, braving a lack of classrooms and teachers that has become a persistent burden.

In some schools in the capital, one classroom hosts 2 shifts, one in the morning and another in the afternoon, instead of having a dedicated classroom for each section of students.

This includes the Parañaque National High School, which has the largest student population in Metro Manila at 13,000. The school has 178 rooms, with 56 new classrooms expected to be constructed this year, said its principal, Rosendo Abulog.

In Manila's Tondo High School, school authorities have requested the Department of Education to fill in vacancies for 33 teachers, said its principal, Sonny Valenzuela.

Its 5,500 students also share classrooms, divided between the morning and afternoon shifts, he said.

Valenzuela also urged authorities to clear illegally parked vehicles that were clogging passageways leading to the schools.

Tondo's Rosauro Almario Elementary School and Quezon City's Batasan National High School also operated on double-shifts due to insufficient classrooms.

Both schools also had a ratio of one teacher for every 45 to 55 students.

FLOODS MAR SCHOOL OPENING

In Datu Salibo, Maguindanao, classes were held at the city hall as the Sambulawan Central Elementary School remained submerged in knee-deep flood that has damaged books and chairs.

"Napakalungkot, napakasakit sa aking kalooban na makita ko ang aming paaralan na ganito na siya at di na mapakinabangan," said Grade 6 adviser Mohaimin Antao.

(It is sad and hurtful to see that our school has become useless.)

Floodwaters submerge the Sambulawan Central Elementary School. ABS-CBN News

Floodwaters submerge the Sambulawan Central Elementary School. ABS-CBN News

Floodwaters submerge the Sambulawan Central Elementary School. ABS-CBN News

Floodwaters submerge the Sambulawan Central Elementary School. ABS-CBN News

"Mahirap talaga kasi may tubig; mga paa namin, damit mabasa," added student Muslima Abdulla.

(It is very difficult because of the floodwater. Our feet and clothes get wet.)
 
The floods, which first hit 2 years ago, had not eased as clashes between government troops and rebels interrupted dredging operations at the nearby Butalo River, teachers said.

'NO SPACE FOR NEW ROOMS IN THE METRO'

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The government plans to to build 14,000 new classroom this year, Education Secretary Leonor Briones told DZMM.

Authorities, however, are having difficulty finding land for the new classrooms in Metro Manila, she said.

"Ready naman tayong mag-build. Nand'yan naman ang pondo. Iyun nga lang, wala tayong buildable space," she said.

"Maski luluhod kami, wala naman gustong magbenta, lalo nang wala gustong mag-donate ng kanilang space."

(We are ready to build. The funds are there. It's just that we lack buildable space. Even if we beg, no one wants to sell, much less donate, their space.)

The education department is converting several office buildings into classrooms for the capital, and constructing temporary learning spaces, she said.

Some local governments are also considering transferring public schools to unused spaces outside city centers.

-- With reports from Jekki Pascual, Jeff Hernaez, Lyza Aquino, Arra Perez, Jervis Manahan, Arianne Apatan and Noel Elvena, ABS-CBN News