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Deped OKs Integrated School Operation In Pag-Asa

Deped OKs Integrated School Operation In Pag-Asa
Some Pag-asa Island residents pose with their children in front of the elementary school building after the Department of Education approved its operation as an integrated primary and secondary school for next year.

The Department of Education (DepEd) has approved the operation of the Pag-asa Island Integrated Elementary and High School next school year, Sen. Panfilo Lacson said on Tuesday, Nov. 30.

“Finally, hope for a shot at a better life for the youth of Pag-asa Island in the Kalayaan Island Group in the West Philippine Sea,” Lacson, who is running for president in 2022, said on his Twitter account.

Lacson thanked the DepEd for the approval of the Pag-asa Integrated Elementary and High School effective next school year, 2022 to 2023.

During DepEd’s budget plenary debates in the Senate last week, Lacson sought for additional school facilities and teachers on Pag-asa Island after learning of the sad plight of the learners when he visited the area on Nov. 20.

Lacson pushed for added benefits for teachers as the island has only one elementary school and two teachers serving 34 students coming from 54 households, with the students having little hope of high school education.

Such a situation is a cause for concern as the students will not have any more opportunities for higher education – and a better future – once they graduate from Grade 6.

The nearest place for the students to study high school is in Puerto Princesa City in Palawan, which will take more than a day to reach, Lacson said.

At present, transportation from the island has to be course through the Armed Forces of Philippine Western Command.

At the time, Lacson proposed that the government put up a high school building or integrate the high school facilities with the existing elementary school building, and hire at least one multigrade teacher who can teach high school.

Meanwhile, Lacson sought DepEd’s commitment for a Special Hardship Allowance (SHA) for the teachers on Pag-asa Island, noting this can be taken from the budget of the Last Mile Schools program.

He said that since the DepEd’s circular does not allow a teacher to receive SHA for two more categories, the two teachers at Pag-asa Island are given only one hardship allowance per year – yet they experience more than one factor of difficulty – difficulties in travel and in teaching, as well as in access to amenities.

They also fall into two categories of eligibility for SHA – located in hardship posts and multi-grade teachers.

Lacson has been pushing for an Edukasyon Plus program to break the cycle of poverty that hounds many Filipino families. Edukasyon Plus provides free tuition and a monthly allowance of P5,000 for the period of internship for qualified senior high school students or Grades 11 and 12 who enter a government internship program.