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The rewards, challenges of bringing children to school
by Ellen Donato

In its 26 years of existence, the Department of Education witnessed a consistently increasing enrollment in public schools.

The regional data on public schools also showed improvement in the performance indicators. This is attributed to the continuing development in all systems, virtually allowing for access, quality, and relevance in the delivery of basic education and all other attendant services in the far-flung communities.

Enrollment in 1988 recorded 173,141 in elementary and 31,641 in secondary with 1,203 and 711 teachers, respectively.

This progressed through the years. In 2013, enrollment data revealed 248,074 in kindergarten to grade 6 and 90,794 in high school, catered by 8,859 and 3,765 teachers, respectively.

The trend is seen likewise in private schools, which number continues to increase, especially those operated by religious groups. With the government bringing roads and schools to far-flung areas, access continues to beat the gaps.

DepEd remains the biggest bureaucracy with a budget that surpasses those of other agencies on a national scale. One of the challenges besetting schools in the region, however, is the Roxas Law that provides enrollment as the major basis in the allocation of teacher items, classroom, school furniture, and like projects.

Perusal of the formula shows DepEd-CAR schools have an ideal teacher-pupil/student ratio, yet in reality, there is a felt need to consider the unique topography and settlement patterns of the region to contain the real needs.

Despite these scenarios, records show schools in far-flung areas with multi-grade classes performing at par or better than their counterparts in urban areas with big class sizes.

The contrasts really thus call for policy actions. On the other hand, young children walking to the nearest schools from their homes, crossing rivers, and climbing up and down hills to the nearest school, is still a dismal sight in the region.

Towards this end, DepEd-CAR, through a Regional Educators Congress in January 2013, passed a resolution for the exemption of the Cordillera from the provision of the Roxas Law on enrollment as the basis for allocations.

This was endorsed by the Regional Development Council to Congress.

Reforms in various ways came one after the other, and continue coming thereafter. The split of the Division of Kalinga-Apayao into two divisions in Feb. 14, 1995 was a milestone to reckon with.

Subsequently, the recognition of Tabuk City as component city of Kalinga, inspired the creation of the Division of Tabuk City despite the absence of its provision in the city’s enabling act.

On Nov. 20, 2013, the memorandum of agreement between Mayor Ferdinand Tubban and DepEd Sec. Armin Luistro establishing the Schools Division of Tabuk City was signed and consummated with the ceremonial signing on Feb. 19 at Teachers’ Camp, Baguio City.

Also noteworthy is the efforts of the congressmen in separating annex high schools, establishing new ones, and working for more classrooms and facilities.

Schools enjoy the support of higher offices, stakeholders, partners, and local government units. With this, school officials and teachers virtually affect the attitude and performance of students.

Dropping out of school then was seen mostly among children who needed to help fend family basic needs. This time, children of more affluent families are no exemption.

Development has virtually affected family values on education. School records and interviews point to reasons where parents, in lieu of physical absence or work load, pamper their children. Others leave their children to the care of grandparents or relatives. Given everything, the children lose initiative and motivation to go to school, making them see no reason why they need to go through the cudgels of school work.

On the other hand, children whose parents have not benefitted from formal education make it their challenge to strive beyond their situation.

Hence, DepEd included the reduction of dropout rates and the performance indicators as criteria in the grant of performance-based bonus among schools.

Interventions run a race with the circumstances, finding one concern solved with another surfacing. The improved programs of the health and nutrition staff especially on malnutrition and strengthened guidance counselling in schools considerably help in reducing dropout rates in the region.

Moreover, the Alternative Learning System (ALS), play a vital role in catering to dropouts and out-of-school youth (OSY) even accommodating those from other divisions and nearby towns and provinces. The Accreditation and Equivalency Test and livelihood trainings jointly supported by local government units and lawmakers significantly help the ALS learners either get back to formal schooling, get employed out of skills learned, or operate their own shops and be entrepreneurs themselves. 

To date, the Abot Alam program strengthens the ALS program with the barangays now mandated to be more vigilant to partner with schools in getting every OSY in their respective barangays given their due in education or livelihood training. This holds true to parents whose children of school age are expected to be in school.

Keeping with the MDGs

The journey to the second decade of the millennium finds DepEd on toe with the national commitment as defined in the country’s Education for All commitment to the attainment of Millennium Development Goals. The DepEd in turn is guided by the President’s 10-Point Agenda on Education. In fine, the K to 12 Basic Education Reform which goes for one year of kindergarten, six years of elementary, four years of junior high school, and two years of senior high school for a total of 13 years cycle is now implemented in transition to full implementation by 2016.

With the basic education reform, DepEd caters children ages five years (Kindergarten) to 17 years old (Grade 12). Children below five years are the local government units’ concern through their local DSWD offices.

Supporting the K to 12 was the timely coming of the Philippines Response to Indigenous Peoples and Muslim Education (Prime), an Australian Aid grant of which the region with four selected divisions were recipients. On the last year of the project, the three other divisions were included.

Prime was supported by the subsequent issuance of Department Order 62 s. 2011, defining the national framework on indigenous peoples’ education. Planning, project proposals, and related activities with council of elders and grassroots were done for over a year.

In Jan. 10, 2013, the Indigenous Peoples Education-CAR was launched and its road map to 2016 was unveiled.

The draft of Cordillera’s Regional Education Development Plan was also presented. The Prime grant terminated last March.

With all the ground works done and the continued full support of all systems, there is optimism of its sustainability.

DepEd-CAR draws inspiration from the region’s uniqueness as an IP region in the implementation of the K to 12 program.

The transition towards the full implementation of K to 12 is work at all levels, more than before. Massive teacher trainings started in summer of 2012 and every summer thereafter. Middle managers are sent to leadership trainings on organization and human resource development and selected teachers are sent to international and national scholarships.

With all these coming in tow, it is not surprising to see some teachers, school officials, students, and parents sigh of the drastic changes from their usual routine.

The immediate results may not be seen and felt as of yet, but doing all these this early, will surely make it easier for the youth, as we progress and welcome the inception of the ASEAN Qualifications Framework in 2015.

Survey among third and fourth year high school students across the region revealed student’s preferences vis-a-vis their potentials in the tracks offered in senior high school.

These results motivated plans of high schools in the region with adequate facilities for an early implementation of Senior High School.

Earlier on, some public schools piloted its implementation following the Tech-Voc track with strands in organic agriculture, baking, food preparation, processing, and preservation.

By 2015, intentions for early implementation of the various tracks in senior high school by public and private schools across the region were endorsed to DepEd central office.

DepEd restructured

The approval of the rationalization plan of the department in the central, region, and division offices and its ongoing implementation is another development to contend with.

Restructuring and reorganization of offices and functions in these offices find more meaning in the delivery of the DepEd’s core business of basic education.

In the regional office, the five former divisions within the office are now restructured to eight, namely: Curriculum and Learning Management, Quality Assurance, Human Resource and Training, Education Support Services Field Technical Assistance, Policy, Planning and Research, Administrative Services, and Budget and Finance Divisions. The elementary, secondary, and ALS divisions in the old structure were abolished but its functions were rationalized in the new divisions with personnel distributed according to their potentials and expertise. The division offices, on the other hand, are restructured adding two divisions within the office, the governance division and the curriculum division.

Additional positions were created to align with DepEd’s core business, while other positions were abolished. Personnel affected by abolished positions were not left behind. They were instead placed through the placement process or retained on co-terminus to the incumbent status. Others opted for retirement with rationalization benefits. The schools are the receiving ends of abolished positions outside the core business, with personnel on co-terminus status. This is to help schools address their needs for security guards, utility workers, and clerical staff.

To date, DepEd-CAR, stands vibrantly at 26, vigilant as its former mother regions, befitting of its journey to adulthood. It has grown from a small to medium region with a staff rationalized to 103. As it continues to maintain openness in its bid to deliver expectations, DepEd-CAR owes its harvests through the years to the continued support and cooperation of the community, parents, other stakeholders, the local government units, congressmen, the private sector, and national agencies, in the pursuit of its mandate.
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:: Rising above poverty –– still an MDG challenge in CAR
:: Bridging traditional and modern maternal care
:: CAR needs to double efforts in gender equality
:: Perspective on Cordillera’s progress along the MDGs
:: Aiming for a responsible and AIDS–free generation
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:: The Millenium Dev’t Goals: Towards a better future
:: CAR’s own ‘branchifying’ festival–versions
:: Convergence efforts key to sustain gains beyond 2015
:: Mobilizing TB prevention initiatives through CorCat

Informatics Institute
InterContinental Hotels Group
Medline International Training Institute Baguio
National Economic and Development Authority
SiTEL

Baguio Central University
Congressman Ronald M. Cosalan
Department of Agriculture – CAR
Department of Education – CAR
Department of Health – CAR
Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan
MMS Development Training Center Corporation
Municipality of La Trinidad
National Grid Corporation of the Philippines
Philex Mining Corporation
Pines City Colleges
SiTEL
Sutherland
University of the Philippines

Ahead Tutorial and Review
Baguio Memorial Chapels Inc.
BCSAT
Benguet Electric Cooperative Inc.
Benguet State University
BSBT College Inc.
Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources – CAR
Commission on Higher Education – CAR
Congressman Nicasio M. Aliping Jr.
Cordillera School of Digital Arts
Department of Environment and Natural Resources – CAR
Department of Trade and Industry – CAR
Dreamforce Review and Training Center
Fabulo Beauty and Image Salon
Far East Pacific Commercial
Filipino–Japanese Foundation of Northern Luzon, Inc.
Ganza and Solibao Restaurants
Governor Nestor B. Fongwan
John Hay Management Corporation
La Funeraria Paz, Inc.
Maybank
Mother Earth Deli Basket
Nagomi Spa
NARDA’S / WINACA Eco Cultural Village
NIIT Baguio
Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Montessori
Pag–IBIG / HDMF
Philippine Information Agency – CAR
Philippine National Police – Police Regional Office – COR
Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Benguet
STI College Baguio
The Manor

 



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