Philippines moves to address perennial school opening woes

May. 19, 2007

MANILA — The usual classroom, textbook and teacher shortages that accompany every school opening in the country is expected to be a thing of the past as the government included these perennial problems among its priority concerns this year.

In a status report on President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s priority projects and concerns released last Tuesday, Cabinet Secretary Ricardo Saludo said a total of 412,707 classrooms are now ready for use in the coming school year,

The classroom to pupil per student shortage, he said, is zero based on classroom-student ratio of 1:50 with double shift for elementary except for isolated cases where local conditions prevent double shifts.

The Department of Education had earlier set the target of lowering the ratio of classroom shortage to 1:45 (one classroom per 45 students) and 1:30 (one classroom per 30 students) by year 2010.

To address the congestion of secondary schools where there is no double shifting, a total of 63,000 vouchers will be used, Saludo said.

The Cabinet Secretary said the government has procured and distributed 105.7 million textbooks to all public schools for priority subjects like English, Mathematics and Science.

This will benefit 17 million students and will help attain a 1:1 textbook to pupil ratio for said subjects.

Social Studies textbooks will be procured to replace the outdated and damaged textbooks, according to Saludo, while new English textbooks for grades 1-4 and in all high school levels, will similarly be procured.

To address the problem of teacher scarcity, a total of 617 education supervisor positions, 1,458 Principal I items (1,359 for elementary level and 99 for secondary level) and 5,103 teacher 1 items have been created.

The government also intends to create a total of 16,000 new teacher items this school year to attain 1:45 teacher to pupil ratio in all public schools nationwide and ill up the shortage of teachers within the year.

The DepEd will assess how many teachers are still needed specifically in all remote areas in order to address the gap.

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