On our way back from Sabang, we made a short stop at the adjacent barangay of Salvacion Baybay here in Calabanga. The rural barrio has an approximate population of 2,261 as of the official 2007 census. It is about 2 kilometers from the town center. We were looking for anything of interest and worth our effort we had to inquire from one of the residents.
Onwards, we also chanced upon an acquaintance of my brother who was painting the gates of the public elementary school. Actually, we were more like intruders of the place, having no appointment whatsoever.
We took some photos of the entrance, then encouraged ourselves to take a look-see of one of the classrooms, while class was on-going!
During this unplanned visit, we also had a first look of the pupils doing some gardening activities.
The teachers were even so cordial at giving us permission for some more photos of the place. We met Mrs. Irene P. Lopez and Mrs. Marilyn B. Dulce, two of the many amiable mentors of the school. They also accompanied us to the lady principal, Mrs. Rebecca A. Dumalasa.
In the immediately preceding school year of 2010-2011, Salvacion-Baybay elementary school had an enrolment of 425 pupils from grades one to six in ten classes under ten grade school teachers.
The school has only 13 desks, 126 pupil’s chair and table sets, 115 arm chairs and one (1) teacher’s table! There is a dearth of instructional materials (textbooks) in the school, too. Textbooks for all grade levels include 151 for English, 260 for Language, 260 for Reading, 47 for Filipino, 59 for Wika, 59 for Pagbasa, 51 for Mathematics, 34 for Science and Health, 344 for Sibika/Hekasi, and 19 for CE.
Although there are eight classrooms all are unfortunately under disrepair, only seven are used for class instructions. The other three classes are held at the parents-teachers association (PTA) building. As the PTA building has a leaking roof, pupils are not spared from the rain even when downpour is light.
All classrooms have no ceilings. Students and teachers endure a very uncomfortable educational learning environment here. When the temperature is hot, the classroom is also irritatingly hot. When it rains, a cacophony of monotonous rain dropping sound on GI (galvanized iron) roofing is a pain in the ear to endure even for a short period of time.
Despite the gross lack of instructional facilities, the delapidated and poverty-stricken public school system here finds comfort at the presence of supportive and understanding parents.
Mrs. Dumalasa opined the parents are one of the pillars of the school in the delivery of its basic roles and functions in the community in the aspect of education. Parents support school programs and projects. Simple programs and minor school needs made sourcing and implementation possible. She said that “with the collaboration of the PTA immediate needs and concerns of the school can be addressed when needed. Regular meetings of the general PTA, are being conducted to ensure proper coordination, transparency and involvement in all undertakings of the school.”
Mrs. Dumalasa is proud of her ten all-female instructional staff. Five were graduates of BEED (1 with MA units); 2 of BSEED both with MA units; 2 of BSAED (1 with MA units); 1 of BSCS with Ed units. The principal herself has units leading to a doctorate degree.
As we traced our way out of the elementary campus, we surmised that Salvacion Baybay is a typical, and very much representative of the depressing state of public school elementary education in the countryside. Consider that the institution is just two kilometers (or 1.24 miles) away from the town center. How much more of those located in far flung and hard to reach barangays of the municipality, of the province of Camarines Sur and of the Bicol region?
Just an afterthought here. If the Philippine department of education (DepEd) and the government cannot deliver a functional and effective public school system in its bare and minimal level in terms of instructional support and facilities, what can we expect if it adds two more years, more likely as Grades 11 and 12? And we are not talking about the well-being and financial situations of the teachers, yet.