A hopeful and promising new school year opened last June 13, 2016 and millions of hopeful students trooped to school in search for better education. They meet new teachers, new friends and classmates. But there is also something old that is retained. The same issue year by year that students, teachers and school administrations have to face: lack of classrooms, books, chairs, visual aids and teachers.
Each administration come and promises hefty upheaval in education but they just came to pass and nothing new is actually done. The problem still persists. The deplorable conditions of most public schools in the country particularly in depress, deprive and underserve (DDU) areas had irked many teachers.
They are now questioning the effectiveness of their teaching since the classrooms do not provide friendly and conducive places for learning. The quality of education has been compromised. They have no choice but to cramp 70-90 students in a classroom that is only supposed to seat 40-45 students.
Accordingly, it is against the law to turn down students who will enroll in public schools. So despite the overpopulation in the classrooms, teachers have to accommodate all enrollees.
On the other hand, Kindergarten is also flocked with new enrollees as it is now a requirement before one could be admitted in Grade 1. Many educators oppose this program because it does nothing to help solve the pressing concerns in education such as the lack of teachers, facilities and supplies.
Some concerned groups mentioned that the problem lies on a government that doesn’t put education in its top priority.
The new Education chief, Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones reiterated that she is determined to make the 2017 budget reflect not only the national objectives of the Duterte administration, but also the specific priorities of DepEd.
Briones, a former national treasurer and an expert in fiscal administration, is looking at a bigger education budget of around P550 billion for 2017. She said she will be prioritizing the expansion of the Alternative Learning System (ALS), infrastructure development, and enhancing the use of IT systems.
“We would like to put ALS on a par with the regular programs such as the Senior High School,” Briones said, adding that this education intervention brings into the mainstream those who are left behind by the formal educational system.
She added that the current budgetary allocation for the department is still inadequate in terms of international standards requiring 6 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) to be spent in education.
With this, total transformation in education is not elusive.
by: ROSALIO P. ARANGCO
Senior Education Program Specialist
Planning & Research Section