SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau
The House Committee on Basic Education chaired by Rep. Ramon Durano IV (5th District, Cebu) approved on Monday the substitute bill to House Bill 2950 which seeks to ensure access of elementary graduates to quality public high school education through the establishment of integrated schools providing complete basic education.
The approved substitute bill entitled “An Act Ensuring Access To Free Secondary Education By Converting The Public Elementary Schools Into Integrated Schools” is authored by Rep. Vilma Santos-Recto (6thDistrict, Batangas).
Santos-Recto said the bill seeks to expand existing public elementary schools to become integrated schools which will offer complete basic education, including high school.
The creation of integrated schools will allow elementary graduates, especially from rural communities, to continue their education at lesser cost, especially on travel expenditures. This will also result in savings for the government as facilities of existing elementary schools may be utilized for use of incoming high school students with only repairs and a few additional classrooms to be constructed, rather than constructing a separate high school in the area, according to Santos-Recto.
Section 3 of the unnumbered substitute bill provides that a public elementary school shall be converted into an Integrated School (IS), subject to compliance with several conditions that are applicable.
These conditions are: there are no public schools offering complete basic education in the catchment area; the number of elementary graduates does not warrant the establishment of a separate public secondary school; there are not enough items for teachers and school heads that would justify the establishment of separate public elementary and secondary schools; there is difficulty in acquiring a school site for the public secondary school; and there are inadequate equipment and resources to support the operation of separate public elementary and secondary schools.
Integrated School (IS) as defined in the bill refers to “a public school that offers kindergarten, elementary and junior high school education and has unified instructional program: The IS may be expanded to include a senior high school education, as necessary, to be determined by the Department of Education (DepEd).
“There has been an alarming increase of elementary graduates who are unable to pursue secondary education because of the limited number of high schools and school facilities accessible within their communities,” Santos-Recto said.
Santos-Recto cited that School Year 2015-2016 data from the DepEd showed there are only 8,159 public secondary schools as compared to 38,688 public elementary schools, which means there is only one public high school for every five elementary schools.
Santos-Recto said the barangays in the country have at least one elementary school compared to high schools which are usually found only in urban centers and populated areas, resulting in 94.5 percent of school-age children enrolled in elementary while only 86.2 percent enrolled in high school.
“Students are in need of an accessible high school within their community. The government should pay immediate attention and address the gross shortage of public secondary schools to reduce the number of out-of-school youths in the country. Establishing more secondary schools will open opportunities for students to access complete basic education at a lower cost and meet the growing educational needs of the youth,” Santos-Recto said.
Santos-Recto said many children in the rural areas are not enrolled in high school due to the shortage of public high schools particularly in rural areas. “Despite basic education being free, students still need to bear the costs for school materials and transportation, among others,” she said.
In the 2011 Annual Poverty Indicators Survey, Santos-Recto said the top reasons of students for not attending school is the high cost of education, far location of schools, lack of schools in the barangay, and lack of transportation.
Meanwhile, during the hearing, Durano said the committee’s accomplishments will be reflected in the overall accomplishment report of the House of Representatives for the first regular session. He acknowledged that many bills were acted upon and approved during the time of his predecessor Rep. Evelina Escudero (1st District, Sorsogon)
“I enjoin the members of the committee to continue to deliberate on the merits of the various proposals that would serve our people and be beneficial to the public,” Durano said. / ICY JR