Cagayan de Oro City

Educators build makeshift learning space as Cagayan de Oro faces classroom shortage

Uriel Quilinguing

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Educators build makeshift learning space as Cagayan de Oro faces classroom shortage

BUILD. A group of teachers builds a makeshift classroom at the Magayad Integrated School in the remote village of Tignapoloan, approximately 28 kilometers southwest of the Cagayan de Oro City proper.

Guro Rides Philippines

The classroom shortage forces pupils from different grade levels to share teachers and learning spaces in one Cagayan de Oro public school

CAGAYAN DE ORO, Philippines – Over the past decade, multi-level buildings on public school campuses have become a common sight outside Metro Manila in response to the challenges posed by limited school sites and the growing enrollment of the school-age population.

Cagayan de Oro, a highly urbanized city in Northern Mindanao, is no exception. In fact, the Department of Education (DepEd) has recognized the city government for optimizing the utilization of its Special Education Fund in school building constructions, thus avoiding the tedious process of sourcing funds for proposed vertical infrastructure projects from national coffers.

On August 31, two days after the opening of the school year, Cagayan de Oro Mayor Rolando Uy led the capsule-laying ceremony for a P48-million four-story eight-classroom building at the West City Central School in Barangay Carmen. This marked the fourth school-building project funded by the city government’s Special Education Fund since he took office in July of last year.

Architecture, Building, Outdoors
MAKESHIFT. A teachers’ group gives a makeshift classroom the finishing touches at the Magayad Integrated School in Tignapoloan, Cagayan de Oro City. – courtesy of Guro Rides Philippines

Schools Division Superintendent Roy Angelo Gazo, who started his role in the city five months ago, attended the ceremony for a project that could reduce the current backlog of 533 classrooms.

Gazo oversees 95 public elementary, secondary, and integrated schools directly, in addition to supervisory and regulatory functions over 102 privately owned educational institutions offering basic education.

Uy said the local government and education officials were facing the challenge of addressing the lack of classrooms and keeping education on top of the government’s priorities in the city.

On that same day, more than a dozen members of Guro Rides Philippines constructed a makeshift classroom at Magayad Integrated School in the remote village of Tignapoloan, approximately 28 kilometers southwest of the city proper. The structure was built from stripped bamboo poles.

Public School District Supervisor Angelito Felisilda, who is also the president of Guro Rides, said the makeshift structure would serve as a “combination class” for Grade 3 and 4 learners.

Combination classes, which consist of pupils from two successive grade levels taught by one teacher in one room, are used in situations where there is a lack of classrooms and teachers.

For instance, Magayad Integrated School had 129 enrollees this school year across 10 grade levels, including six in Grade 11 senior high school. However, it only had five classrooms and five teachers, necessitating the combination of two grade levels.

School Principal Dulce Cuerquis, who was transferred to another school before the start of the current school year, recalled that when she first arrived at Magayad Elementary School in 2019, there were only 78 students from kindergarten to Grade 6.

When Magayad Elementary School was converted to Magayad Integrated School on February 1, 2021, it had eight classrooms. The following school year, the school’s enrollment exceeded 150 students because those in junior school (Grades 7, 8, 9, and 10) did not need to enroll elsewhere.

However, three of the classrooms, including the only school restroom, were damaged due to soil erosion during the height of Typhoon Odette in December 2021, and there was uncertainty regarding when these could be replaced.

For the current school year, Magayad Integrated School held early registration from May 10 to June 9 for kindergarten, Grades 1, 7, and 11 enrollees to allow DepEd to make necessary preparations and adjustments for the school year’s opening.

Person, Motorcycle, Transportation
TEACHERS ON BIKE. Members of a teachers’ group, Guro Rides Philippines, pose with their motorcycles at Magayad Integrated School in Tignapoloan, Cagayan de Oro, where they build a makeshift classroom for the village’s children. – courtesy of Guro Rides Philippines

School maintenance activities, under the Brigada Eskwela program, were conducted at the school from August 14 to 19. However, these activities could not address the lack of classrooms or the replacement of leaking classroom ceilings and damaged gutters.

A team of motorcycle-riding educators volunteered to replace the roofing and gutters and repaint the classroom walls. The group also planted saplings along the school perimeter and vowed that this would not be their last outreach activity.

Gazo, who founded Guro Rides Philippines on April 29 of this year, leads the group, which currently has 35 members, including education supervisors, school heads, and teachers. –

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