Philippines kicks off school opening preparations with Oplan Balik Eskwela

May. 19, 2007

MANILA — The Department of Education (DepEd) today kicked off its school opening preparations with the launch of Oplan Balik Eskwela (OBE), the department’s annual campaign to ensure the smooth opening of classes on June 4.

“Oplan Balik Eskwela is government’s effort to ensure the orderly conduct of the opening of the school year,” said Education Undersecretary for Regional Operations Ramon Bacani. “The project seeks to streamline efforts of different government agencies to address common problems usually associated with the opening of classes.”

OBE was officially launched with a multi-sectoral task force convergence meeting attended by various government agencies and private sector organizations. The meeting was presided by Undersecretary Bacani, serving as OBE Action Officer.

Members of the Oplan Balik Eskwela Inter-Agency Convergence Task Force include the Department of Health (DOH), Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of National Defense (DND), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), Philippine National Police (PNP), PNP-NCRPO, Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS), Manila Water Company and Meralco.

DTI, represented by Assistant Secretary Maria Theresa Pelayo said that they will constantly monitor the prices of school supplies, and assured the public that they will ensure the stability of prices. Pelayo called on the PNP to assist in the monitoring of the sale of fake goods that violates intellectual property laws on rights.

The Philippine National Police, represented by Police Sr. Supt. Jose Gentiles that they have strengthened their presence around elementary and secondary schools to prevent incidences of crime in these areas. They too have laid down measures for the safety of students studying in schools built along high traffic areas, including malls and bookstores.

The Department of Interior and Local Government Unit, represented by Director John Castaeda reported that they will issue a memorandum circular to the field regarding school opening, and other school opening concern.

Meanwhile, PAGASA gave an update on the weather forecast for June. The National Weather Bureau, represented by Officer in Charge Dr. Prisco Nilo predicts fair weather when the school year opens on June 4. Nilo also warns heavy rains by around July.

“Through OBE, different government agencies are closely coordinating with each other in ensuring that students are enrolled properly, school facilities are prepared, school supplies are kept stable and student transport fares are fair, among other concerns,” Bacani said.

With these efforts in place, the education department is looking forward to a peaceful and orderly opening of classes.

“We are glad that these government agencies are working with us in this worthwhile endeavor,” Bacani added. “With the collaboration of our partner agencies, we will be able to ensure the smooth opening of classes in June.”

With this campaign, DepEd officials shall conduct field inspection of schools nationwide. Information and Action Centers will also be set-up in all DepEd regional and division offices. The public may contact the Department of Education Action Center at 636-1663, fax number 638-8641 or by texting the DepEd text messaging service by texting DEPEDFDBK to 2622 (available for Globe and Smart subscribers) or through email at (DepEd)

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