Over 21 million students have enrolled for the school year 2023-2024 with Region 4-A having the highest with over three million.
INSIDE one of the newly built classrooms donated by SM Prime Holding Inc. (SMPHI), through SM Foundation, in Batangas.
The school year was also met with challenges as the country reported a classroom deficit, reaching 159,000.
San Antonio Elementary School (SAES), situated in one of Batangas’ most populated municipalities, has been affected by the long-standing challenge of classroom shortage.
“Sa sobrang dami po ng aming estudyante, hindi po namin maprovide ang accommodation na nararapat para sa mga bata. Meron po kaming 1,550 learners last school year at 21 classrooms – kaya’t kulang po talaga kami ng 22 classrooms,” SAES Principal Joy Obreo said.
SAES used class shifting to be able to still fulfill their duty of honing the minds of Filipino youth. However, this, too, posed a problem.
“Ang shifting of classes po kasi namin ay nagra-run po from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. ‘Yung six hours po kasi ng bata, kulang na kulang para magkaroon ng sapat na interaction ang students at teachers,” Obreo said.
“Malaki po ‘yung challenge sa amin, since ‘yung bata, kailangan gumising ng maaga. Pag nale-late sila ay magkakaroon na agad ng gap sa learning na dapat maituturo sa kanila. ‘Yung dapat po naibibigay sa mga mag aaral, hindi po talaga kinakaya,” she added.
Department of Education and SM group representatives led by SM Foundation Executive Director for Education Programs Carmen Linda Atayde and School Building Head Juris Soliman during the turnover of the school building.
SM Prime, through SM Foundation, improves education in the Philippines by constructing new school buildings. SM group’s school building program has contributed to the resolution of educational woes, hoping to improve the quality of learning.
As an active partner of the Department of Education’s Adopt-A-School Program, SM Foundation turned over a two-floor, four-classroom school building to SAES. Each of the classrooms is well-equipped with armchairs, including for left-handed, wall fans, and concave whiteboards.
Promoting inclusivity, the building is equipped with PWD-friendly facilities – from ramps to accessible restrooms with handrails. SM Foundation also set up a reading nook in an area with high student traffic to encourage learning.
SM Foundation also strategically installed a handwashing facility accessible to the SAES community. The foundation aims to protect students and staff from infections, foster a more conducive learning environment, and promote lifelong healthy habits.
With a new school building, SAES can end class shifting for sixth graders and have smaller class sizes, taking a step towards providing a more engaging and effective learning environment.
“Instead na ang pasok nila ay pang six a.m. to 12 noon, magiging 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. na po sila. Magkakaroon na po sila ng sapat na oras para sa intervention activities kagaya ng reading, numeracy, at iba pa,” Obreo said.
“Mahalaga po itong mga intervention activities po natin dahil dito po natin natututukan ang mga estudyante na nagkakaroon ng challenges during regular classes. So during the intervention program, they will have the opportunity to catch up and better understand the lectures,” she added.