(Feature) Preparing for the senior high school program in Dagupan

June 16, 2015 10:38 am 

By Leonardo V. Micua

DAGUPAN CITY, June 15 (PNA) — In a national summit at the Diamond Hotel in Manila sometime last May, Department of Education (DepEd) Secretary Armin Luistro rallied oppositors to the K to 12 basic education program with the reassuring words "Never fear."

The summit, sponsored by DepEd and its partner, the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), gathered officers of Parents Teachers Associations (PTAs) from all over the land in a national forum to clear all their doubts about the K to 12 and remove their fear that the country is not ready for the implementation of the Senior High School Program (SHSP) that will start next year.

In buttressing this fear, DepEd cited its track record so far in putting up school buildings during the five years of President Benigno Aquino III's administration now reaching 41,726 school buildings and still counting.

Hearing this from Secretary Luistro, more than half of the participants in that summit who had lingering doubts about the readiness of the country for the SHSP next year instantly changed their mind, a situation where the critics suddenly became the endorsers.

Imelda Gonzales, president of the PTA federation in Dagupan City who attended that summit, echoed the assurance of the Education secretary that his department is doing everything it can to put the SHSP on track, given one year to prepare.

Now convinced more than ever that the government is sincere in preparing for the implementation of the SHSP, Gonzales echoed her belief that the program is doable with the help of the local government unit (LGU), which is most crucial.

"We are lucky that our mayor, Belen Fernandez, is very hands-on in dealing with the problems of our schools that will be offering the high school program next year," said Gonzales.

Fernandez was named by the League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP) headed by Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista as the focal person nationwide as far as cities are concerned on the implementation of the SHSP program that is due to start next year.

The city mayor is the most vital ally of DepEd in implementing the SHSP in Dagupan, intoned Gonzales, noting that in that summit, it was Fernandez who sent her and two others from the city schools division to attend.

With the city schools education program supervisor Diosdado Cayabyab, Fernandez conducted an inventory and drew up plans on how to put up additional 139 classrooms that would be needed by incoming Grades 11 and 12 students in Dagupan next year.

Of these classrooms, DepEd, through Secretary Luistro, promised to deliver 42, Congresswoman Gina de Venecia, another 24, while the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) promised another 38.

Phase I of the SHSP infrastructure program, already started, with Phase II comprising the 38 classrooms promised by Pagcor also starting soon.

Fernandez wrote not only Pagcor for help but also big business establishments doing business in Dagupan that may want to undertake their corporate social responsibility projects in the city by putting up school buildings for the incoming senior high schools.

The first company to respond was the Security Bank Foundation which is now putting up a two-storey, eight- classroom school building at the Dagupan City National High School (DCNHS).

Very soon, the Dagupan City government will also but up a two-storey, nine-classroom school building costing PhP12 million, also at DCNHS, with the fund sourced out from the city's surplus of PhP54 million as gleaned from the supplemental budget approved by the city council.

With the help of Congresswoman De Venecia,two two-storey school buildings consisting of six classrooms are now being built at the Federico B. Ceralde High School in Bonuan Binloc funded from DepEd's Basic Education Facilities Fund of PhP10.7 million.

There are six secondary schools in Dagupan implementing the SHSP next year. These are DCNHS, Federico Ceralde High School, Judge Jose de Venecia Memorial National High School, Carael National High School, East Central Elementary School, and Pugaro Integrated School.

Noting that the Dagupan mayor is very much hands-on in solving the problems of classroom lack under the SHSP, Gonzales said: "This means that if we will really do it, we can do it."

No wonder, Dagupan is being hailed by DepEd as the model city in the Philippines as far as the preparation for the SHSP is concerned.

Gonzales also noted from that summit she attended that the Philippines is now only among three countries in the world not implementing the one year of kindergarten, plus 12 years of basic education to its children. Thus K to 12 was conceived by the Aquino administration.

Saying that she agrees 100 percent with K to 12, Gonzales believes that Filipinos will become more competitive in the international labor market with the help of the K to 11. (PNA)

SCS/LVM/LVMICUA/RMA/SSC

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