Occidental Mindoro

More schools in Occidental Mindoro shift to blended learning amid high power cost


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More schools in Occidental Mindoro shift to blended learning amid high power cost

Power lines and electricity meters

LeAnne Jazul

The electricity bill of the Occidental Mindoro National High School more than doubled to P310,000 in October, from P145,000 in August

MANILA, Philippines – More schools in Occidental Mindoro are shifting to blended learning because of high power costs.

Mamburao Central School (MCS), which has around 2,000 students, had to pay an electricity bill of almost P70,000 in October – more than double its usual monthly bill of P21,000 to P29,000. 

The October power rate for public buildings in the province is P19.7698 per kWh, almost double the August power rate of P10.1736 per kWh. 

MCS Principal Emelita dela Rosa told Rappler that the budget for the school’s programs, projects, and activities is being “sacrificed” to cover the overhead expenses of the high power bill.

“Sobrang laking epekto nito,” said the school head. “’Yung mga bagay na gusto kong gawin sa pangangailangan ng mga estudyante at teacher, dito (electric bills) na lang napupunta. Napaka-unfair.”

(This has a huge effect. Instead of being spent on the things that want to do for the needs of students and teachers, the money goes to [electric bills] instead. It’s so unfair.)

The MCS administration is in the process of consultations on its plan to submit a formal request to the Department of Education (DepEd) Occidental Mindoro for a 4-1 school schedule scheme: Four days, or Monday to Thursday, would for in-person learning, while Friday classes will be done through modular learning.

The school has a P1.877-million budget for maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE), which should prioritize financing the school’s unrepaired buildings and congested classrooms.

Occidental Mindoro National High School (OMNHS), the biggest secondary school in the province by population, faces a similar situation. The school’s monthly electric bill skyrocketed to P310,000 in October from P145,000 in August, OMNHS Principal III Marivel Aguda told Rappler on Tuesday. 

OMNHS, which has a MOOE budget of P10 million, has around 6,000 students, and 250 teachers and non-teaching personnel. It submitted a formal request to DepEd for the same compressed school schedule.

DepEd Occidental Mindoro Division Schools Superintendent Loida Adornado said that the agency understands the problems of the municipal schools in requesting for compressed schedules as they cannot augment the school’s MOOE budget unless given emergency funds by the government. 

She also said that once modular classes are reimplemented, “learning will not be hampered.” Modular classes came under fire during the pandemic as parents allegedly answered their children’s modules themselves. 

Expecting other schools in the province to file similar requests, Adornado advised school heads to come up with austerity measures and craft solutions to address the high power rate issue, including decongestion and the provisions of open ventilation in classrooms, and wearing of comfortable clothing during school hours.

The Divine Word College in San Jose started holding blended classes in mid-October because of high power rates.

Meanwhile, Occidental Mindoro Governor Eduardo Gadiano has mandated a compressed workweek arrangement scheme for provincial officials and employees to reduce power use and to conserve fuel.

By November 6, all government offices in Occidental Mindoro were required to only operate from Monday to Thursday for their 40-hour workweek schedules instead of maximizing the whole week operations until Friday. 

The power rate hike is due to the entry of the province’s lone power provider, the Occidental Mindoro Consolidated Power Corporation (OMCPC), into an emergency power supply agreement (EPSA) to address a power supply shortfall.

Occidental Mindoro was placed under a state of calamity in April because of a power crisis, though power was stabilized later that month. – Chris Burnet Ramos/Rappler.com

Chris Burnet Ramos is an intern for Rappler from Mamburao, Occidental Mindoro. A graduating journalism student from the Polytechnic University of the Philippines in Manila, he currently writes for The Communicator, the official publication of the PUP College of Communication.

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