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PIA Press Release

DepEd reports smooth school opening in Aklan

by Venus G. Villanueva

Kalibo, Aklan (5 June) -- Aklan's public elementary and national high schools had an orderly and smooth school opening here yesterday.

This is the assessment of Aklan Schools Division Superintendent Victorina Laroza when asked on her observations on the opening of classes here June 4.

"The all-out compliance of school heads and school teachers in Aklan of the DepEd order to accept enrollees without charging any fees contributed much to the orderly and smooth opening of classes here", according to Laroza.

Laroza also said there is a noted increase in enrollment in elementary and high schools. She revealed however, that Aklan schools still lack teachers.

"In Manoc-Manoc, Boracay Island for example, incoming Grade 1 pupils I heard number more or less a hundred. But we cannot divide them into two sections, as there is no teacher to handle the other group. This problem on our lack of teachers here is now a big headache for mayors, especially in Kalibo, and for the provincial government under Governor Carlito Marquez.

Dr. Laroza said Kalibo, under Mayor Rebaldo, maintains a big number of teachers paid under the municipal school board, while the province also has teachers all over the province paid under the provincial school board.

"Some teachers under the municipal school boards are only paid at least P2,000.00 pesos a month. However, some are luckier, like those in Malay and Kalibo, for they get more or less P5,000.00 a month. Others just volunteer to teach," Dr. Laroza revealed.

Last year, with Aklan's 300 elementary schools, only 8 teacher items were given to DepEd Aklan, while the national high schools fared better as they were given 28 items, according to Dr. Laroza.

Presently, there are still schools here in remote areas practicing the multi-grade system, a set-up wherein a teacher teaches more than one grade level in just one classroom.

Meantime, this scenario in Aklan is seen to improve with DepEd's high budget for 2007. According to its officials, DepEd has hired 16,390 additional public school teachers to attain a 1:45 teacher to pupil ratio in all public schools nationwide and fill up the shortage of teachers within the year. It was able to expand its Government Assistance to Students and Teachers in Private Education (GASTPE) programs wherein DepEd gives students in private schools a P4,000 subsidy to stay enrolled and prevent a migration to already congested public schools. The DepEd was able to arrange for the construction of 6,000 additional classrooms that will hopefully be completed by the end of the year.

DepEd Secretary Jesli Lapus expected few problems on the first day of classes, owing to the inter-agency efforts initiated by DepEd and the Oplan Balik Eskwela Command Center to ensure that all school opening concerns are addressed.

The DepEd Secretary reiterated that public school enrollees are not required to pay anything. Contributions for PTA, boys and Girl Scouts, anti-TB drive RedCross and school paper are voluntary.

In Aklan, Dr. Laroza said she opened her lines and her office for complaints yesterday in the conduct of enrollment and school opening, but none reached her office. (PIA) [top]

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