Back to school
NOTES FROM THE EDITOR - Singkit (The Philippine Star) - June 3, 2018 - 12:00am

A lifetime – maybe two – ago those three words would have elicited at least a groan if not brought on a major tummy ache: the prospect of five days a week waking up when it was still dark, carrying a schoolbag that weighed a ton and doing homework was certainly not something to look forward to. Fortunately I’m way, way past those days, and going back to school is not really among the things of youth that I look back on with nostalgia.

I do have memories of those days though, buried in the dark recesses of my mind, resurrected every June when the focus is on school opening. I hated having to wear a uniform, which in the schools I attended always involved a necktie. Weeks before we had to be fitted for those uniforms, then we had to get books, the list of which was given upon enrollment. Stocking up on school supplies – note- books, pads, pencils (yes, we used pencils in those days, with erasers) – was fun, as was covering the books in plastic. Finding a bag big enough to fit all those books and notebooks and folders into was no easy task; school bags of plastic twine (bet- cha no one has them anymore) woven to measure for us cousins were made by this lady who lived near our family compound.

Back then, school started on the same day for everyone (except those in “inter- national” schools), mandated by the education department (it wasn’t DepEd then; for a while it was DECS – Department of Education, Culture and Sports). So get- ting to school on time on the first day was always a major challenge. The current staggered school opening – many private schools start classes in August – will hopefully mean less of a nightmare on the road this week.

However, there are still an estimated 23.5 million students in public schools across the country who will start classes tomorrow – that’s a lot of kids going to school. The DepEd released data last week that showed total enrollment this school year of 27.7 million students: 23.6 million in public schools and 4.1 million in private schools. Almost three million kiddies are enrolled in kindergarten, since this is now mandated by law. Elementary students comprise the bulk of enrollees at 13.9 million, with 8.2 million in junior high and 2.8 million in senior high. Those in the non-formal Alternative Learning System are not included in this count. The number of enrollees is the highest in history, according to DepEd, which attributed the increase to, not surprisingly, the rising population. No data is given on whether we now have enough classrooms, teachers and textbooks; I just wonder whether facilities will ever really catch up with the ever-increasing number of kids who need to go to school.

Getting a proper education is, cliché though it may be, still the key to getting people out of poverty, whether it is by getting a good job or by being able to start a business, even a small one. Let the opening bell tomorrow in schools all over the country hopefully signal the start of a better life for many.

  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?
Login is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with