MANILA: Almost 21 million public preschool, elementary and high school students will return to school today even as the government struggles to address classroom congestion, particularly in Metro Manila.
The Department of Education (DepEd) expects this year’s enrollment to reach 20.9 million, of which 1.79 million are in kindergarten, 13.3 million in elementary and 5.8 million in high school.
Authorities, on the other hand, also made preparations to ensure the safety and security of students on the first day of classes.
The Philippine National Police (PNP) distributed flyers titled “Balik Eskwela 2014” providing crime prevention tips and safety reminders for parents and students. The PNP is more focused on incidents of bullying and street crimes.
Malacanang has directed the PNP to ensure the safety of students in time for resumption of classes in public schools nationwide.
“We are calling on the general public to help ensure the safety of everyone. Let us help each other and coordinate with the authorities so that the resumption of classes will be as peaceful and as smooth as possible,” Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr said.
PNP chief Director General Alan Purisima directed all police units to be on alert to ensure orderly and peaceful opening of classes as he instructed police commanders to closely coordinate with the local government units and the DepEd.
DepEd officials insisted there is “no more classroom shortage” for this school year.
DepEd Assistant Secretary Jesus Mateo, however, admitted congestion would remain a problem most especially in urban areas.
“The classroom shortage in Metro Manila is due to the lack of buildable spaces,” he said.
A total of 66,813 classrooms had been built as of December 2013 to address the 2010 backlog of 66,800, according to DepEd.
The Philippine Star