Once again, students and teachers (that includes me) are gearing up for the opening of classes this Tuesday. As always, talks related to education is at the forefront, and as always, the issue of shortage of classrooms has been tackled, yet again. Funny that we have known about the problem since time immemorial and yet have not found any real solution to it. Are we really addressing the problem head on? The president thinks she has found a solution to the problem. As a matter of fact, it resulted in the tongue-lashing (of) Acting Secretary Fe Hidalgo of DepEd received at the May 30 Cabinet meeting with reference to supposedly (giving a) wrong information on classroom shortages. Her solution is very simple as this article reports.
PRESIDENT Arroyo declared Tuesday that her government has licked the perennial problem of classroom shortage. This she did by applying a new formula to estimate the demand for classrooms.
Instead of the ideal ratio of 45 students to a class used for years by the Department of Education, Arroyo says the ratio of 100 students to a class should be adopted.
Excuse me but is the President that naive? Is this a simple mathematical problem? Why do I sense a famous "eat-cake-because-there=is-no-bread" stance made by a beheaded French queen? No, it may not be as callous but it is just as absurd. Has the President forgotten that when it comes to education, quality is important? For quality to be had, there should be a lesser student to teacher ratio so that the teacher can attend to more students that he/she possibly can. I have taught a class size of 42 and believe me, it was very hard. As it is, the present 45 students/classroom of the DepEd is a lot. Increase that to a 100 students crumped in a small classroom would mean chaos. How will there be education when there is chaos? I can just imagine testosterone-filled teen-agers in one classroom and I know it would be a teacher's nightmare.
In fairness to the DepEd, it has tried to solve the problem but to no avail. In his article TO ALL WHO CARE TO HEAR: THERE IS A REAL CLASSROOM SHORTAGE IN THIS COUNTRY, former education undersecretary Juan Miguel Luz stated:
To deal with this problem of overcrowding, DepEd embarked on an interim strategy in SY 2003-2004 (under Secretary Edilberto de Jesus) to do double-shifts in the most overcrowded schools so that classrooms could be used TWICE in one day. Hence, the “classroom-to-student” ratio is actually twice the number of students per class because the room is used twice a day by two classes (morning and afternoon) rather than by just one class (for the entire day).
To me, this is more logical than what the president suggests. Still, Luz finds this to be far from ideal for (T)he truth is, however, that a classroom should only be used by one class per day (especially in the higher grades) because double or even triple-shifting takes away class time from students.
Another solution being undertaken by the DepEd is the GASTPE or Government Assistance to Students and Teachers in Private Education whereby the government pays private schools subsidies so that students of low income families can enrol in these schools. When the government subsidy is not enough, the schools help in subsidizing these indigent students. But how many students can benefit from this program? Luz offers us the numbers, thus:(GASTPE)paid for over 382,000 students from low-income families to study in over 1700 private high schools nationwide at a rate of P4000 per student. That may be a lot, but how many enrollees do we expect this year? In schoolyear 2006-07, DepEd expects to enroll 12.4 million elementary pupils and 5.5 million secondary students. You do the math. Besides, how many private schools are willing to help? Will there be more than 1700?For how long? Whether we like it or not, private schools have to look at the business side of the equation. The GASTPE would mean not only displacing a student who is willing to pay full for his/her tuition fee, but will also add cost on the part of the school.
Unfortunately, the only solution remaining is to build more classrooms. But then, granting again that the government, wistful thinking as it is, is able to build more classrooms, will there be enough teachers? Alas, that is altogether another dilemma we have to face. In my school alone, more and more teachers are going abroad to teach. And the list goes on and on.
Jack of all trade, master of none.
First a disclaimer. My students have discovered this blog and they might think that what I write is gospel truth. Worse is they might find an argument that they think they can use, for some reason or another, against their teachers. So, to set the record straight, it is NOT. As a matter of fact, I write and open it to feedback to get another view in the hope that somebody would tell me if I am wrong and reenforce my thinking if it is right. Not that I will accept anything thrown my way, though. Just so I can think about it some more and decide whether my original stance is right or definitely off tangent. So there. I hope that clarifies everything. Now, on to blogging.