Senior high in Laguna: Unfinished classrooms, students in private schools

LAGUNA, Philippines – Local education officials in Sta Cruz, Laguna are gearing up for the full implementation of the K to 12 program on Monday, June 13. 

One existing public high school and two standalone senior high schools will cater to students who want to study the sports track, the general academic strand, the technical-vocational-livelihood track, or the science, technology, engineering and mathematics strand.

Those who want to study other tracks and strands may opt to enroll in private senior high schools, or local universities and colleges. 

But teachers are getting reports of students already enrolled in private senior high schools who want to go back to public schools after realizing the cost of private education. 

Some classrooms for public senior high school are still undergoing construction ahead of the first day of classes. 

Jee Geronimo reports. 

JEE GERONIMO, REPORTING: After studying in public schools all her life Evelyn Tope’s 16-year-old daughter Beej Kril is going to a private school for senior high school. Like her, many Grade 10 completers from Felicisimo T. San Luis National High School in Sta Cruz, Laguna will go to private schools because they want to, and because their high school only offers the sports track and the general academic strand.

EVELYN TOPE, MOTHER OF INCOMING GRADE 11 STUDENT: Pumili kayo ng magandang school. E halos lahat, tanungin ko mga kaklase, sa AMA daw, sa Women’s daw, sa STI daw, sa ACTS daw. E ano ba maganda? Sa AMA daw. Edi sige, wala tayong magagawa kung doon nila gusto.

(I told them, choose a good school. Most of her classmates mentioned AMA, Women’s, STI, ACTS. What’s a good school? They said AMA. Then AMA it is. We can’t do anything if they want to go there.)

JEE GERONIMO, REPORTING: FT San Luis is the only existing public high school in Sta. Cruz that will offer senior high school this June. The municipality also has two other standalone senior high schools but construction is still ongoing for one of the schools.The local Department of Education has come up with contingency plans to address this problem.

ERMA VALENZUELA, SENIOR HIGH SCHOOL COORDINATOR, LAGUNA DIVISION: Ang worry lang naman namin ‘yung mga hindi pa nako-construct na buildings, which is out of our control kasi ‘yung provision na ‘yun galing naman sa Central Office. Ang isa po sa ginawa namin dun, for example, kung wala pang available building, ay gumawa kami ng paraan na ma-accommodate muna ang mga bata dun sa mga classrooms na pwedeng iprovide muna noong mga malalapit na junior high schools and even elementary schools.

(Our only worry are the buildings that have yet to be constructed, which is out of our control because that is a provision from the Central Office. What we did, for example, is to find a way for senior high school students to be accommodated in classrooms that will be provided for now by junior high schools and even elementary schools.)

JEE GERONIMO, REPORTING: In the case of FT San Luis, it will apply double shifting in junior high school to free up classrooms for senior high school students. Buffer classrooms are also on standby in case of last-minute enrollees.

MENANDRO ZUBIETO, PRINCIPAL, FELICISIMO T. SAN LUIS NATIONAL HIGH SCHOOL: Hindi na po naging bago sa mga junior high school students ‘yung arrangement namin na mag-double shifting dahil ever since po kasi ‘yung school namin kapag mayroong Palaro tsaka event ng sports activities, nagagamit school namin to host all the athletes as building quarter ‘yung aming school.

(It’s not new for our junior high school students to hold double-shifting, because it’s been our practice ever since, whenever our school serves as building quarter of athletes during Palaro and other sports activities.)

JEE GERONIMO, REPORTING: Days before the opening of classes teachers in FT San Luis are already getting reports of former students already enrolled in private senior high schools who now want to go back after realizing the cost of private education on top of the voucher.

EVELYN TOPE, MOTHER OF INCOMING GRADE 11 STUDENT: Para sa akin, pag-igihin niya na kung talagang gusto niyang 2-year course lang, talagang pag-igihin na niya, kasi diyan, hindi pwedeng bumagsak.

(For me, she has to strive hard if she really wants just a 2-year course. She has to strive hard because there she can’t fail.)

JEE GERONIMO, REPORTING: Local education officials are already preparing for different scenarios on Monday but they have yet to see how many students enrolled in private schools will really go back to public schools to pursue senior high school.

The provincial capital of Laguna will welcome the first day of classes with unfinished classrooms for senior high school. But the full implementation of the K to 12 program can no longer wait – not when public schools are still the cheaper choice for Grade 11 students.

Jee Geronimo, Rappler, Laguna – Rappler.com