By Merlina Hernando-Malipot
Amid concerns on having an environment conducive to learning in public schools, the Department of Education (DepEd) reaffirmed its efforts particularly in conducting interventions to achieve ideal class size and teacher-student ratio in public schools nationwide.
The DepEd reassured the committee on basic education and culture of the House of Representatives (HoR) recently that it has been conducting various interventions to be able to achieve the ideal class size and teacher-student ratio in all public schools.
DepEd Undersecretary for Planning and Field Operations Jesus Mateo said one way of improving the learning environment is to reduce the class size, classroom-pupil and teacher-student ratios. However he noted that cases in urban centers “may be different because of reported overpopulation, among other contributing factors.”
Mateo said that before, the teacher-pupil ratio at 1:45 but for school year 2017-2018, the teacher-student ratio is 1:31 for the elementary level, 1:36 for Junior High School level, and 1:31for Senior High School level.
DepEd made this clarification in response to House Bill 473, or An Act Regulating Class Size in All Public Schools and Appointing Funds Thereof, which proposes that a “class to be handled by one teacher shall be fixed at a standard size of 35 learners, with a maximum of no more than 50 students.”
One size does not fit all
Mateo also pointed out that “one size fits all” concept may not be applicable to class sizes. “In Kinder, we’re using a parameter wherein there should only be 25 learners and maximum of 30,” he said in Filipino. With this, DepEd tries to hit the 1:25 ratio but if it exceeds to 31, it is a “decision point” wherein an additional teacher must come in.
“When it comes to Grades 1 and 2, we’re attempting to have 1:30 where 36 is decision point to provide additional teachers,” Mateo said. He furthers that for Grade 3, the maximum number of student is 35 and for Grades 5-10, the planning parameter is 1:40. “For SHS, while we still use the 1:40 planning parameter, we have to factor in the subject specialization of teachers,” he added.
Meanwhile, Mateo noted that aside from reducing class size, DepEd’s continues to exert effort to provide an environment conducive to learning. Among these are the acquisition of land for school sites, construction of multistory school buildings in areas with limited land space, and use of shuttle services in cooperation with LGUs to transport students to schools with available classrooms.
DepEd, Mateo added, also conducted early registration activities to prepare for arising issues and concerns that learners, teachers and parents may encounter in the upcoming school year.
To ensure that teachers will have more time to focus on lesson preparations and conduct of classes, DepEd said it has already requested for the creation of more non-teaching positions for support staff in schools such as bookkeepers and disbursing officers.