Overcrowded rooms greet students in QC

Janvic Mateo - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Congested rooms greeted thousands of students in Quezon City yesterday during the opening of classes in public elementary and high schools nationwide.

In Batasan Hills National High School (BHNHS), administrators had no choice but to put dividers between classrooms to achieve the 1:55 or less teacher-student ratio as mandated by the Department of Education (DepEd).

BHNHS, considered one of the largest high schools in Metro Manila, currently has a student population of over 12,600. The number is expected to swell to over 13,000 due to late enrollees.

School principal Diego Amid said the school only has around 80 classrooms, all of which are being used in a two-shift schedule: grade seven and fourth years in the morning, and grade eight and third years in the afternoon.

To address the high number of enrollees, Amid said they erected plywood panels between some rooms so two classes can take place at the same time. The school has an average 1:45 teacher-student ratio, but the classroom-student ratio – counting the divided rooms as one – can reach as high as 1:100.

Divided classrooms at the BHNHS were packed, with minimal space for aisles between the chairs. Several students in some rooms had to sit on the floor due to a lack of chairs.

Amid said the overcrowding in some classrooms will be solved in the next few days once the sectioning of classes are finalized. He said they still have vacant rooms for those who will be transferred from overcrowded rooms.

“Some of those who registered in January did not return in May for the sectioning so they don’t have assigned rooms yet,” he said in Filipino.

The principal said they opted to divide classrooms instead of erecting tents because the students are not comfortable studying in the latter.

“Tent classrooms are very hot,” he said, adding that the school does not have much space for the makeshift classrooms.

The situation at the nearby President Corazon C. Aquino Elementary School (PCCAES) is similar to that of BHNHS.

Paulino Medrano, PCCAES school principal, said they still have to divide some of their rooms despite the recent completion of a 19-classroom new building.

He said the school, which has around 8,200 students this school year, has an average of 1:45 student-teacher ratio. Elementary classes at PCCAES are held in two shifts.

A mobile classroom was also set up in the school for the kindergarten classes.

More shifts

Meanwhile, instead of dividing classrooms, Rodolfo Modelo – principal of Commonwealth Elementary School (CES) – said they opted to have three four-hour shifts for first graders to address the high number of enrollees.

He said 1,600 grade one pupils are sharing 11 classrooms at CES. Students of the earliest shift have to be in school at 5:30 a.m. The last grade one shift ends at 6 p.m.

The principal said they did not divide the classrooms because crammed spaces would definitely affect the performance of the students.

Around 9,200 students are currently enrolled at CES. Modelo said other grade levels have 1:55 teacher-student ratio, and are in two-shift schedules.

“Classrooms will be less crowded once our new building is completed,” he added.

Modelo said CES used to have a 1:100 classroom-student ratio in the past, but the congestion was solved with the construction of new buildings and the creation of the adjacent Benigno Aquino Elementary School.

More classroom woes in 2016

And while congestion appears to have been temporarily solved this school year with dividers and makeshift classrooms, more problems are seen once the first batch of Grade 11 students enters senior high school in 2016.

Amid said they are now looking into possible solutions for the increase of students in the future.

Earlier, Quezon City division of schools superintendent Corazon Rubio said cases of classroom congestion are isolated in several schools in the second district, but admitted there is a need for new classrooms in most schools in the city as preparation for the implementation of the K-12 program.

Four new buildings, including the one in PCCAES, were completed in the city this year. Eleven other school buildings are currently under construction.

In a recent pronouncement, Mayor Herbert Bautista said the local government is eyeing the purchase of financially distressed private schools as a way to address the shortage of classrooms in public schools.

He said the city government is exploring possible public-private partnerships with private school owners to facilitate the acquisition of the properties.


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