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1.6 million Bicolano students troop to schools

LEGAZPI CITY -- The first day of classes of the 1,650,357 students in the entire Bicol Region for the school year 2016-2017 was peaceful, smooth and orderly.

This was disclosed by Roy T. Bañas, regional information officer of the Department of Education (DepEd) Bicol regional office, after the monitoring the did on the first day of classes in kindergarten, elementary, junior and senior high schools in the entire region.

One of the schools the DepEd visited was the Albay Central School in this city, which is considered the biggest public elementary school in the entire Albay province, where the opening of classes was orderly and no problem was encountered owing to the program on security enforced for the students coming to the school.

Bañas said the enrollment for this school year 2016-2017 increased by 9.38 percent, from 1,508,742 recorded in the school year 2015-2016 due to the implementation of the senior high school wherein those who enter the Grade 11 will reach 92,500 in the next three days as the enrollment still continues.

Based on the record of the DepEd Bicol, enrollment in the kinder reached 138,440; elementary, 968,814; and junior high school or Grade 7 up to Grade 10, 450,617.

The present enrollment tally in Grade 11 already hit 57,573 or 65.4 percent of the total 102,137 junior completers in the region from the school year 2015-2016.

The number is expected to reach 92,500 in the next three days due to the continuing enrollment of students in Grade 11.

Bañas admitted that they expect that more than 30 percent would not be able to enroll in Grade 11 in Bicol as the students might have transferred to other regions.

They are presently monitoring this possibility.

Of the 57,573 that have enrolled already and entered Grade 11 in Bicol, 48,942 are in 611 public schools while 8,631 are in 200 private high schools, tertiary schools and government colleges and universities under the supervision of the Commission on Higher Education.

Bañas said said there are 1,303 classrooms completed and being used by the senior high school or Grade 11, or 41.67 percent of the total 3,127 classrooms built exclusively for senior high schools, including Grade 12.

He expects that all the classrooms for the senior high schools will be finished before the first semester of the year ends.

The DepEd official also expected some hitches due to the high number of Grade 11 enrollees, like lack of classrooms, so that the DepEd has implemented the agreement among the school administrators, principals and teachers in the entire region.

First is to increase the capacity of classroom for junior high school wherein two sections with 35-40 students will be merged first.

Second, for the junior high school to borrow classrooms from nearby elementary schools.

Third is the use the previously erected makeshift structures as temporary classrooms until the completion of the more than 3,000 classrooms now under construction.

As to the modules being complained about, Bañas explained that the senior high school is already similar to college so that the textbooks, guidelines and other references can be downloaded from the website of the DepEd.

He stressed that that teachers need not spend from their own pocket to download and reproduce modules because they can already use their MOOE or maintenance and other operating expenses that have already been downloaded to school divisions and regional offices of the DepEd.

The DepEd has already added funding for the MOOE of all schools, with an increase of 20 percent in elementary and 25-27 percent for secondary or junior high school; while the DepEd has its own MOOE for senior high schools.(PNA)

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