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VP Sara says classroom shortage not an excuse to keep children from schools

Despite reports from several schools about classroom shortage, Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte on Monday said this should not be a reason to keep the students from going back to in-person classes for School Year 2022-2023.

Duterte made the remark during the National School Opening Day Program at the Dinalupihan Elementary School in Bataan where she acknowledged that several schools in the Visayas and Mindanao also need urgent reconstruction and rebuilding due to the effects of Typhoon Odette.

“Ngayong araw na magbubukas ng klase, dapat po ba nating iurong muna ang pagbubukas ng klase sa Limasawa Island? Hindi. Mismong mga magulang at mga guro ang nagsabing sasabay sila sa pagbubukas ng klase. Hindi sila magpapahuli sa ibang mga paaralan at sa edukasyon ng ating mga anak,” she said, referring to the area she visited recently.

(As the school year starts, should we postpone for the meantime the opening of classes in Limasawa Island? No. The parents and teachers themselves said they will join the opening of the classes. They will not fall behind other schools for their children's education.)

“We cannot make the lack of educational infrastructure or the inadequate number of classrooms in certain provinces another excuse to keep our children from schools,” she added.

Among the minor challenges faced by a number of schools during the resumption of face-to-face classes on Monday, August 22, was classroom shortage.

To work around this problem, some of the schools have to implement shifting schedules — one in the morning, and one in the afternoon — in order to cater to their students, all while trying to maintain physical distancing.

Others have to divide a classroom into two, while others opted for a blended learning to address the overcrowding of students in each classroom.

Department of Education (DepEd) spokesperson Atty. Michael Poa earlier said that there is a shortage of classrooms in the National Capital Region (NCR) and Calabarzon due to the high number of students.


Meanwhile, Duterte said the COVID-19 pandemic should also no longer be a reason to keep the children from attending face-to-face classes as the Philippines is also reopening schools just like the rest of the world.

“There are no excuses. Hindi na po natin kaya na muling maantala pa ang pag-aaral ng mga kabataang Pilipino. Kailangan na po natin silang maibalik sa in-person learning dahil sa in-person learning, makakakuha ng makahulugan, sapat o wasto, at dekalidad na edukasyon na kailangan nila para sa kalinangan ng kanilang pag-iisip sa pagtatag ng malakas na bansa,” she said.

(We cannot afford to delay the education of the Filipino youth any longer. We need to get them back to in-person learning because with it, they will get a meaningful, adequate or proper, and quality education that they need for the enhancement of their thinking in establishing a strong nation.)

Duterte said also that the resumption of in-person classes on Monday is a “victory” for the basic education, including the teaching and non-teaching staff, parents, local government units, and other education stakeholders.

“This is also the day when we made one of the important decisions on behalf of our children: a decision that will tremendously impact the future they are charting for themselves with our guidance,” she said.

The Education chief also reminded learners that it is themselves and their determination that could change their lives, and not their parents nor their teachers.

She also appealed to students to be respectful especially to their fellow students with special needs.

'Chairs, not floors'

Senator Grace Poe, meanwhile, said the country "could have been better prepared" for the opening of classes, referring not only to classroom problems but transportation issues as well.

"When we asked our students to return to classes amid the pandemic, all systems should have been in place to ensure that public utility vehicles are available, traffic flow is manned efficiently and health protocols are observed," Poe said.

"Classrooms are expected to have the basic facilities.  Students should be sitting on chairs, not on the floor," she added.

A member of the Senate Committee on Education, Poe said students deserve a safe and comfortable experience as they brave going back to school amid the pandemic.

"We hope concerned agencies will make up for the hitches encountered on Day One of face-to-face classes and make the coming days pleasant for our learners," she said.

As of 7 a.m. on August 22, some 28 million students, both from public and private schools, have already enrolled for SY 2022-2023. —KBK, GMA News