Iligan’s education woes: it takes a village to teach a child

ILIGAN CITY (MindaNews/20 June) – At least eight of 100 students in this city drop out of school due to poverty.

But that is not the only problem the  city is confronted with: Iligan also posted 49% or the lowest in the National Achievement Test (NAT) in Northern Mindanao and third from the bottom in Mindanao.

The Department of Education (DepEd) here has asked education stakeholders to help improve their competencies to address major issues relating to achievement, comprehension and retention of its students.

Cherry Mae Limbaco, schools division superintendent, said “administrators hope that there is a strong development-driven community that will support pupils this school year. It takes the whole community to help a pupil learn in school.”

Limbaco said that in Iligan, there is 8.29% drop out rate for every 100 students every school year,  often caused by poverty and lack of food in their homes.

“After our reading inventory, most of our children can’t read independently or are only within the instructional and frustration levels only,” said Limbaco. .

Limbaco bared that Iligan got the lowest rate of 49% in the NAT “as we have been constantly affected by conflict situations in the last few years.”

Other reasons cited were: tardiness of both teachers and students especially in hinterland schools, lack of capacity to address overwhelming needs of pupils; many holidays and lack of parental support (for) children’s needs.”

In the last two years, DepEd here enjoyed support from the local government for building construction and from Task Force 47-74+1 for teachers’ training in English, Science and Math.

Dr. Usman Mangarong, health officer of DepEd-Iligan, reported that there is only one doctor, 10 nurses, two dentists, and one dental officer that will look into the needs of  82 elementary schoos in this city.

Mayor Lawrence Lluch Cruz, chair of the local school board (LSB), said they allocated P25.38  million for the construction as well as repair and maintenance of school buildings for schoolyear 2009-2010.

This, he said, excludes budget for personnel services.

Cruz said that the LSB has also paid P2 million for textbooks, P2 million for the nutribun feeding program, P1 million for scholarship and another P2.4 million for sports program.

Vicente Belmonte, congressman of the  lone district of Iligan, claimed to have supported the construction of eight classrooms, two multi-purpose buildings, one pavement for Napocor National High School as well as provide textbooks for kindergarten students.

Belmonte said that under his countryside development fund, he will allocate a budget for the construction of  a three-storey building for city’s national highs school.

Vice mayor Henry Dy also claimed to have facilitated the construction of  many classrooms here.

Ten private corporations have also supported DepEd,  as part of their corporate social . responsibility, by constructing more school buildings and supporting school-based activities. Among these are mining companies.

Although Limbaco was grateful for this support, she still raised concern over the sustainability of the program.

Sister Lorena Jumawan, president of Saint Michael College (SMC) said  government programs for education must focus on strategic but sustainable projects instead of tokenism to ensure that money is appropriated for projects that truly address DepEd’s concern.  SMC leads the feeding program for malnourished pupils in 14 elementary schools under Task Force 47-74+1 (Reverse Education Crisis) with support from Jollibee Foundation.

Limbaco also bared she has summoned the support of barangay officials to monitor the attendance and performance of teachers in remote areas.

She said that to improve the reading competency of children, they are conducting Saturday classes and remedial reading every Saturday. They also pened seven pre-school classes where children below seven years old are trained at no cost.

“I ask parents to never tire in supporting their kids.” she said. (Violeta M. Gloria/MindaNews)