Perennial Woes: Deped-Iloilo faces classroom, teacher shortage ahead of Balik Eskwela

Dr. Ernesto F. Servillon Jr. (center), Division superintendent of the DepEd-Province of Iloilo, and other officials of DepEd-Iloilo hold a press conference on the Oplan Balik Eskwela (OBE) on August 15, 2023. (Rjay Zuriaga Castor photo)

By Rjay Zuriaga Castor

The Department of Education (DepEd)-Schools Division of Iloilo is facing a shortage in classrooms and teachers ahead of the opening of classes for School Year 2023-2024 on August 29.

Dr. Ernesto F. Servillon Jr., Division superintendent of the DepEd-Province of Iloilo, in a media conference on Tuesday, said that the lack of teachers and classrooms continues to be a long-standing problem of the DepEd.

“Wala man gid gawa sang may nagbag-o sa mga concerns nga gina atubang natun diri sa DepEd… One of the most baffling problems nga gina atubang gid natun kada bukas sang klase is teachers, classrooms kag aton mga learning materials,” he said.

Servillon revealed that DepEd-Iloilo is in need of 1652 classrooms across the province’s five congressional districts.

The distribution of classrooms per district is as follows: 302 classrooms for the 1st district, 297 for the 2nd district, 385 for the 3rd district, 219 for the 4th district, and 449 classrooms for the 5th district.

Dr. Gilbert Solidum, Governance and Operations Division Chief, said the solution for the lack of classrooms is a big undertaking and DepEd-Iloilo’s intervention is to provide temporary learning spaces, utilization of existing structures that can be converted to classrooms, shifting schedules, and blended learning.

“For highly congested areas nga wala na sang buildable space or wala na sang temporary learning spaces, naga resort kita sa shifting of classes,” Solidum added.

Servillon said the provincial government is also extending help by utilizing the provincial school board fund to augment the classroom needs such as the classroom construction and the hiring of school board teachers to augment the lack of teachers.

He revealed that Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor Jr. has recently approved his proposal to hire over 500 more remedial teachers to address the present learning and performance status of the students in the province

In an education summit conducted by the provincial government in July this year, it was revealed that there is an alarming deficiency in the reading and numeracy skills of Ilonggo students.

Jose Marie Bedro, Administrative Officer V, said more than 800 teachers for the Senior High School and around 50 for the Special Education Program (SPED) are needed based on the data from the academic year 2022-2023.

As for the status of the hiring of new teachers, Bedro added that they are still waiting for the comparative assessment result-registry of qualified applicants (RQA).

“Hopefully ma signan na ang aton RQA within this week and then we can commence with the hiring of our Teacher 1 applicants,” he said.

With the hiring of more teachers, Servillon said DepEd-Iloilo is aiming for an ideal teacher-student ratio of either 1:20 or 1:25 to accomplish a tutorial-style approach to teaching.

Servillon is seeing an increase in enrollees this year following the lifting of the state of public health emergency throughout the country.