FIRST DAY HIGH. A Grade 3 pupil in Davao City’s Kapitan Tomas Monteverde Elementary School submits his notebook to his teacher for checking on Monday, the first day of school year 2013-14. ( photo by Medel V. Hernani)

The Department of Education cautioned teachers to take care of their health. ( file photo by Medel V. Hernani)

By Evan Michael Clerigo, UPMin Intern

DAVAO CITY – The Department of Education (DepEd) Region XI cautioned teachers to take care of their health following an incident in Mindoro where a public school teacher collapsed and was hospitalized.

DepEd – Davao City spokesperson Jenielito S. Atillo said that they still need to probe whether Florena Rivera, a public elementary teacher, was overtasked as the primary concern of the agency is the health of the teachers.

“Regardless of whatever reasons, we still have to know whether she was overburdened…or she has health concerns. As per information, she skipped meals,” Atillo said.

Rivera is an elementary teacher in Bulaklakan Primary School in Oriental Mindoro who was handling multi-grade classes from Grade 1 to Grade 4.

In her Facebook post on June 13, Rivera said that she started to lose her voice after the first day of class as she handled four grade levels.

In a later post on her Facebook account which went viral, Rivera’s photo showed her in uniform at a hospital. Her post warned other teachers not to be like her.

Rivera shared that she finished 30 lesson plans, prepared activities until 12:00 midnight, and skipped meals.

She said she was able to bear it for three weeks, but on Monday afternoon, July 4, her body gave up.

Rivera even expressed concern on how to achieve quality education when a teacher will not be able to teach all subjects.

To preempt cases like this, Atillo said DepEd – Davao City will still continue to observe proper loading distribution and encourages teachers to voice out their concerns.

“Education must be everybody’s business. We cannot produce a good product if we wouldn’t help each other,” Atillo said.

Lack of teachers blamed

For a public elementary school teacher like Fe Villocino, the government needs to immediately address cases like this.

“Sakit paminawon knowing na akong kauban kay exhausted gyud to siya kay nakuyapan man siya (It is painful to know that my fellow teacher collapsed because she was exhausted),” Villocino said.

She said “teachers are not robots,” and they have their limits.

She said that if the shortage of teachers will not be addressed, cases like Rivera’s will happen again.

“Kung ang teacher lang unta kay sufficient kada school, dili siguro kailangan i-burden ang isa ka teacher sa daghan kaayo na mga assignment (If the number of teachers were sufficient in every school, we don’t have to burden one teacher with several assignments),” she said.

As enrollment for transferees is still on going, Villocino fears that the number of teachers cannot cater to the number of students in Lapulapu Elementary School. She said that the maximum ratio of teacher to student is 1:60, and the least is 1:50.

Atillio said every school must regulate their programs and employ schemes that will not burden the teachers.

For Rom Babiera, a teacher from Davao City National High School (DCNHS), classroom overcrowding affects the quality of education.

He explains that if the class size exceeds the ideal or standard class size, learning will be compromised.

He said the DCNHS is lucky to have sufficient number of teachers.

He also agrees that the shortage of teachers in Lapulapu Elementary School needs to be addressed.

Due to inadequate number of teachers, other teachers like Villocino had to handle other assignments aside from teaching loads.

Villocino said her workload consume the time she supposedly spends with her family. (

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