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Classroom shortages greet teachers, students in opening of classes

MANILA, Philippines – As the Department of Education (DepEd) opened a new school year on Monday, June 3, old problems in the form of cramped spaces and a lack of classrooms greeted students and teachers once more.

DepEd official opened the academic year for 2019-2020 on Monday by welcoming over 27 million students who enrolled from kinder to senior high school.

The education department continues to receive more students each year, but not all schools can keep up with he growth in population of students. (IN PHOTOS: Public schools open amid ‘increasing number of challenges’)

In Quezon City, for instance, the lack of available classrooms has been a problem for some 4 years at the Bagong Silangan High School. Teachers have had to split classrooms in half – forcing the same number of students into a smaller space – to cope with having a larger number of students enrolled. (READ: How DepEd plans to address PH classroom shortage)

Bagong Silangan Faculty President John Robido told Rappler that students in Grades 7 and 8 are most affected by this, with around 80 to 100 students occupying a room for a given class. This is a short-term solution, Robido said, until the school finds space to build new classrooms for junior high school students.

CONSTRUCTION. Construction begins for the Bagong Silangan Senior High School but teachers say more space is needed for junior high school students as well.

Photo by Sofia Tomacruz/Rappler

"Apat na taon itong ginagawa ng aming eskwelahan. Sa dami ng estudyante mula sa iba't ibang school.... Yung ginagawa namin, hinati ang classroom para matugonan ang kanilang pag-aaral. Hindi pwede hindi sila pag-aralin dito kasi naniniwala ako na ang edukasyon ay para sa lahat," Robido told Rappler in an interview.

(We've been doing this for 4 years. With the number of students we have from other schools.... What we do is we split the classrooms so they can all attend class and fulfil their studies. We can’t send them away because education is supposed to be for all.)

As in Bagong Silangan High School, schools all over the country continue to see a lack of classrooms and facilities. In most cases, public schools also have shifts to accomodate all grade levels every school day. 

WATCH: In the Corazon Aquino elementary school, shifts in classes see grade 1 and 3 students come in after students in grades 2 and 4 finish their classes in the morning @rapplerdotcom — Sofia Tomacruz (@sofiatomacruz) June 3, 2019


Addressing this, the DepEd said the lack of classrooms were not considered "backlogs" by the department, but rather "additional requirements," seeing as the number of students increases yearly. 

In 2019, the education department some P501 billion, which will mostly be used for repair and construction of school buildings, the hiring of teaching and non-teaching personnel, as well as developing and providing learning materials to students.

Until a more permanent solution is reached, teachers said students' learning will continue to be affected by conditions in schools where facilties are wanting. 

"Pag maliit yung classroom, hindi siya madaling matutuo ang bata dahil mainit, masikip, yung focus ng bata, mababawasan kasi nga di sila komportable.... Kailangan talaga ng additional room...kailangan din ng expansion pero wala na kaming space," Bagong Silangan Filipino Head Gloria Cruz said. 

(If classrooms are small, students cannot learn easily because it's hot, cramped, and their focus will waver because they are not comfortable. We really need additional roooms...we also need to expand but there's no space left.)

For Grade 7 student Angelyn Marfil, though the tight classrooms may make it difficult to pay attention, what's more important, she said, is getting to finish classes. 

"Makakapagtapos naman rin kami ng pag-aaral kahit kalahati naman yun at saka maganda rin naman madudulot kasi po iyong teacher po namin, sila po yung nag-aadjust para kami pa rin po ay mapag-tapos," Marfil said.

(We still get to finish our studies even if the classrooms are small. It’s good because the teachers adjust to make sure we finish our studies.) –

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs, the overseas Filipino workers, and elections. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter @sofiatomacruz. Email her at