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SOUTH COTABATO, Philippines – Public schools in the Soccsksargen region are struggling with a shortage of at least 8,275 classrooms. The region logged over a million enrollees for the new school year.
Kathrine Lotilla, assistant director of the Department of Education (DepEd) in the Soccsksargen region, said on Wednesday, August 30, that to address the shortage, they will implement class-shifting schedules, particularly in lower-grade schools with high enrollment.
The state-run Philippine Information Agency (PIA) reported that DepEd Soccsksargen had seen the shortage as early as February of this year.
Lotilla said they have already approved a budget of more than P3 billion to construct 1,187 classrooms during this school year.
She also said that some schools in the region have set up temporary learning spaces (TLS) to accommodate students.
Lotilla said the department has expanded the number of recipients for the Educational Service Contracting program by enrolling excess high school junior students with private schools.
According to Lotilla, their Learner Information System Quick Count listed 1,016,075 school enrollees in both secondary and elementary levels.
“The number is expected to increase because some schools have yet to submit their enrollment reports,” she said.
Lotilla noted an increase in enrollees this year compared to the last school year. The number accounts for 87% of their target of 1,163,839 enrollees.
This year, there are more male enrollees, with the count at 510,383, while females number at least 505,692.
Lotilla said public schools in the region continue to accept enrollees.
In South Cotabato, school authorities said they require an additional 608 classrooms.
Leonard Balala, South Cotabato Schools Division superintendent, said their assessment showed a shortage of at least 374 classrooms for elementary and 234 for secondary education.
Balala attributed the classroom shortage to budgetary constraints and the increasing number of students each year.
He also said damages due to calamities and the aging of classrooms contributed to the shortage.
In General Santos City, the count of enrollees as of August 30 stood at 168,932. Of this number, 145,556 enrollees were in public schools, said General Santos Schools Superintendent Isagani Dela Cruz.
“We have a 91% turnout compared to the number of enrollees in the past school year,” he said. – Rappler.com