Confusion marred the opening of classes in some public elementary and high schools across the nation on Monday.
Over in San Bartolome High School (SBHS) in Novaliches, Quezon City, students and teachers found themselves sharing the classroom with another grade level during the early morning session.
A section of grade 8 and grade 9 almost shared the classroom but with the timely intervention of SBHS principal Dr. Modesto Villarin, the “standoff” was solved when Villarin found a vacant room in another schoolbuilding and asked the grade 8 students to move over there.
Meanwhile, many teachers and students at SBHS sweltered in heat in some of the classrooms due to malfunctioning electric fans.
About 25 million Filipino students trooped to schools on Monday as school year 2016-2017 opened.
It coincided with the introduction of Grade 11 in the senior high school program under the K to 12 Law.
Education Secretary Br. Armin A. Luistro FSC said the total enrolment in public and private schools nationwide hit about 25 million.
Elementary has the most number of enrollees at 14,347,076, followed by secondary with 7,350,147 and kindergarten at 2,119,325. Over a million students form the first batch of Grade 11 students.
With the historic roll out of Senior High School, some 11,000 schools nationwide are SHS ready.
Of the total number, 6,002 are public schools operated by DepEd while 5,031 are private schools, private and public universities and colleges, and technical vocational schools.
“I believe this is the boldest move the department has ever undertaken –to open simultaneously 11,000 senior high schools that offer academic, technical vocational, arts & design and sports options for our students to choose from,” the education chief said.
The government continues to invest heavily in education, marked by an unprecedented 148% increase in the education budget from 2009 to 2016.
“The Aquino government sees investments in education as the game changer of the future, thus, there has been a sustained and unprecedented growth in the education budget from P174.5 billion in 2009 to P433.5 billion in 2016,” Luistro explained.
The government has included in the 2016 education budget a provision for the senior high school voucher program.
Under the program, Grade 10 completers who will enroll in private schools which offer senior high school will get financial subsidy from the government. Senior high school is free in public schools. DepEd has earmarked P21.189 billion for the SHS voucher program.
Noting that the implementation may not be perfect, Luistro said, “I am certain there will be challenges on day 1. But none of those will be insurmountable especially since our schools and divisions have prepared for this for the past three years.”
Senior High School is the last mile of the implementation of the K to 12 program. SHS equips graduate with the knowledge and skills that will help prepare them better for their chosen path – be it higher education, employment, or entrepreneurship. (Joel C. Atencio)