In Crowded Schools, Six-Year-Olds Are in Class at 6 AM
It’s shortly after dawn, but the youngest pupils in overcrowded Ilugin Elementary School in Pasig City are already in class.
Ilugin’s grade one students are part of the first shift in a school that needs to schedule classroom use in three shifts to accommodate all 1,800 of its students. The first shift begins at 6 a.m., ending at 10 a.m., while the last shift starts at 2 p.m. and ends at 6 p.m., according to a GMA News report by Mav Gonzales.
One million students were added to this year’s public school enrollees nationwide, reflecting the country’s galloping population growth. But education authorities say an undetermined number are private school students who moved to public schools for financial reasons.
Despite the construction of nearly 20,000 new classrooms for this year, congested public schools in Metro Manila are still resorting to organizing their students in shifts to cope with a booming population squeezing into overwhelmed education facilities.
Other schools have different ways of coping. At Dampalit 1 Elementary School in Malabon City, three classes are held in one hall, with blackboards as dividers, while a teacher’s voice in one class is overheard in another.
School administrators are needing to choose between larger class sizes and more shifts. According to a report by Oscar Oida, Batasan National High School in Quezon City has chosen to limit their students to two shifts with 60 students per class. Class size is considered a key indicator in learning, with overworked teachers unable to pay attention to the needs of individual pupils.
In an interview on News to Go, DepEd assistant secretary Toni Umali said this year’s nationwide classroom shortage is estimated at 48,000, a drastic improvement over last year’s shortage of 66,000.
He said the situation will improve further with help from private sector partners as well as congressmen. “Kapag lahat po yan i-aaccount natin ang ating kakulangan na lang ay umaabot na humigit kumulang ng 20,000 na lang po,” said Umali, adding that with an increase in enrollment, the shortage will be around 26,000 next year.
Last February, President Aquino said the classroom shortage will be solved by 2013 through the public-private partnership program. – Carmela Lapeña/ HS, GMA News