OFWs help address acute classroom shortage in public schools
Special to MindaNews (February 1, 2005)1st of two parts
MANILA-- Inug-ug Elementary School in Pagulungan, Maguindanao has 514 pupils, 11 classes and, until late last year, no classrooms except for a makeshift hut made of bamboo and nipa.
Inug-ug is among the initial batch of beneficiaries of the Classroom Galing sa Mamamayang Pilipino Abroad (CGMA), a project managed by the Department of Labor and Employment.
The school now has two concrete 49-square-meter classrooms with a toilet, the construction of which was funded by donations pooled by DOLE from Alfredo de Leon, Ma. Aurorina Canlas, Melissa Cautiverio and Suzette Paguio. The four are participants of the Exchange Visitor Program in the US.
“Four more classrooms will be added,” said Elena C. Calingasan, CGMA project manager. With its current enrolment level, Inug-ug should have 10 to 11 classrooms.
Members of the Filipino Community in Northeastern USA, who have coordinated with Consul General Cecilia B. Rebong will be funding the additional classrooms.
Calingasan is part of DOLE’s team of labor attaches who are actively soliciting donations from overseas Filipino workers.
The project is a collaborative effort of the DOLE, Departments of Education and Foreign Affairs and the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc. which manages the actual construction of the buildings, said DOLE undersecretary Manuel Imson, who oversees the entire program.
In Lake Sebu, South Cotabato, Klubi Elementary School is a bit more fortunate than Inug-ug: it has one classroom for its 392 pupils and nine classes. They will get two additional classrooms after the Batch 2004 trainees of the Filipino Workers Resource Center in Malaysia agreed to pass the hat for the benefit of Klubi’s schoolchildren.
In T’Boli, also in South Cotabato, 785 pupils are studying in Laconon Elementary School. While the children are divided into 15 classes, the school only has seven classrooms. Their condition is expected to improve once the four additional classrooms will have been completed. The funds were pooled donations from Filipinos now based in Korea – the members of the Inchon Catholic International Community and the staff of the Philippine Embassy. The seed money was augmented by contributions from Geraldine Peteros and Michelle Advincula, who are also participants of the visitors exchange program in the US.
For the past 18 months, Filipinos working abroad have been helping raise funds needed to finance the construction of additional classrooms all over the country under the CGMA program.
A total of P51 million had been raised for the CGMA program and more pledges are coming in. The amount pooled has been programmed to build a total of 250 classrooms, of which 105 have been completed. A total of 108 elementary and high schools all over the country are its initial batch of beneficiaries.
“We have barely scratched the surface but we have made a good start and must be able to sustain the momentum,” said Labor and Employment Secretary Patricia Sto. Tomas.
The CGMA program is gaining headway, particularly in the rural areas where an additional classroom could mean a lot of improvements for both the pupils and the teachers.
Based on the data from the Department of Education, a total of 7,385 classrooms are immediately needed – 5,191 for the elementary schools and another 2,194 for the public schools. The total cost is estimated at P3.32 billion.
But the classroom shortage is actually a lot more acute. Assuming that each class of 50 pupils should have a classroom, the country’s public elementary school system needs at least a total of 43,737 classrooms for its 2,186,874 pupils. The actual number of classrooms is only 26,695 or a shortage of 17,042 classrooms.
At the elementary level, the shortage is most acute in Metro Manila, which needs close to 9,000 additional classrooms, followed by Region 4-A or Southern Tagalog (close to 3,000 classrooms) and the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (with a little over 1,000 rooms). These three regions have the highest enrolments at the elementary level.
More is needed for the public high schools where total enrolment now stands at 3,202,757. The country’s public high school system has a total of 41,039 classrooms, while the ideal, at 50 students per class, should be 64,055 classrooms.
The enrolment pattern for high school students is different. The highest is in Region 4-A, followed by Metro Manila, Region 3 (Central Luzon) and Region 7 (Central Visayas). Many elementary graduates from the rural areas are sent to live with their relatives and friends in the urban centers, often working as house helps, to be able to finish their high school education.
All in all, the entire public school system needs over 40,000 more classrooms if it must stick to the standard of having 50 students per class. Given CGMA’s ballpark cost of $4,000 per classroom, at least $160 million – or close to P9 billion – would be needed to meet this shortage.
“The amount may sound staggering but that represents only 2% of the total remittances from our overseas workers,” Sto. Tomas said.
OFWs help address acute classroom shortage in public schools
Leticia M. Subang
Special to MindaNews (February 2, 2005)Last of two parts
If every Filipino working abroad could give a one-time donation of $20 each, then the acute classroom shortage would have been able solved.
About seven to eight million Filipinos are working abroad.
“We should invest in the education of our youth so our country could be assured of highly-skilled entrants into our labor force. This is the only way to solve our unemployment problem,” Labor Secretary Patricia Sto. Tomas said.
Of the initial 250 classrooms being built under the CGMA program, 57 will be given to 21 elementary and high schools in Mindanao. This may appear insignificant considering that in Mindanao’s public school system, one out of every three classes has no classroom of its own. Mindanao has over 1.2 million public school students – 472,597 elementary pupils and 783,362 high school students. Ideally, Mindanao should have over 25,000 classrooms. At the present level of enrolment in the country’s second biggest island, over 8,000 additional classrooms would be needed.
The initial response to the program that was launched about 18 months ago had been encouraging.
Among the early donors are the seamen affiliated with the Associated Marine Officers and Seamen’s Union of the Philippines, which contributed P2 million to build 10 classrooms in Tala High School in Caloocan. Two out of every three classes have no classrooms in Tala, which has 6,199 students and 39 classrooms – or a student-to-classroom ratio of 159.
The seamen’s union, which collects the donations from each member when they renew their licenses, is planning to donate again to build four classrooms in Quezon Province which was devastated by the typhoons last December, Calingasan said.
Meanwhile, Metro Manila, with a total of 15,349 classrooms, must have twice as much for its 1.5 million public school students. Metro Manila, where the classroom shortage is most acute, accounts for 35% of the estimated national shortage.
Tala High School, Camarin Elementary School in Caloocan City and Commonwealth Elementary School in Quezon City have one thing in common – two out of every three classes in these schools have no classrooms. Their student-to-classroom ratio – at 152 pupils per room for Camarin and Commonwealth – is almost twice the national average of 80 per room.
Camarin will get additional rooms through the donations from the Filipino-American Chamber of Commerce of San Francisco USA and Global Filipino USA. Commonwealth’s will be funded partly by contributions from the Filipino-Canadian Association of Kingston, Ontario.
Some CGMA funds came from unexpected sources. People in Profit Systems (PIPS) and Isabellamina Foundation, civic organizations based in Malaysia and headed by Bryan Marsden, contributed $100,000. These groups are linked with the World Council of People for the United Nations ran Leo van Vogel, vice president for Asian operations. The donor initially specified that the school beneficiaries should be in Zambales, Pampanga, Batangas and Mindoro. So far, a total of 18 school have been identified to be recipients of two to four classrooms. Now, PIPS/Isabellamina Foundation is also supporting schools in Mindanao and Metro Manila (such as Camarin).
A number of donors specified their hometowns as their intended beneficiaries.
Camilio Tabalba, who is now based in Canada, indicated Guinsiliban Central Elementary School in Camiguin, his home province, as his beneficiary. The CGMA project office is doing the validation and documentation needed before construction activities could start. Tabalba’s donation will be augmented by funds from PIPS/Isabellamina Foundation.
Ronnie Avenida, who runs the California-based Avenida International Consultants, opted to help Gubat National High School in Sorsogon. The Gubatnons of Northern California led by Ligaya Avenida pooled their donations and together with Ronnie and his wife, they were able to finance the construction of two classrooms that the students have been using since June last year.
Two Gubat teachers who are now in the United States are also chipping in. With the inflow of donations, four more classrooms would be constructed in Gubat, Calingasan said.
Gubat has 2,752 students and 10 classrooms. This means that 80% - or four out of five classes – do not have classrooms. Given its current level of enrolment, Gubat should have 55 classrooms.
Carmelita O. Matsushima, who married a Japanese, Hiroshi Ueda, is the chair of Nara Mabuhay Community. The couple donated to Jose P. Laurel High School in Quezon City where Carmelita used to teach. Jose P. Laurel has 1,839 students and 26 classrooms. Ideally, it should 37.
Spearheaded by Apolinario N. Matibag and his wife, the Filipino Workers in Spain donated classrooms for Bulbugan National High School in Gloria, Oriental Mindoro, the couple’s hometown. The group coordinated with Ambassador Joseph Delano Bernardo and Labor Attache Natividad Roma. The Matibag couple, now permanent residents of Madrid, represented the organization during the inauguration last December 29, officiated by the newly ordained priest who was also Matibag’s son.
Two Filipino groups based in Spain – the Samahan ng mga Pilipino sa Madrid and Filcom in Marbella donated classroom to Gov. Julio V. Macuja Central High School in Hamtic Antique. As the group’s president Diosdado N. Valdes informed the CGMA project office, their members are all from Hamtic.
“We try to accommodate the donors’ requests,” Imson said. There were a few times, however, when they could not. A former teacher wanted to donate to the school in Quezon City where she used to teach. Being an urban area, however, Quezon City requires two-storey school buildings to maximize the space. With CGMA, its standard package is a one-storey building with two classrooms and a toilet. “We are still exploring other options with the would-be donor,” Imson said.