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By Connie B. Destura LEGAZPI CITY --- An official of the Department of Education (DepEd) in Bicol said there were no major problems monitored on the first day of school in the region, particularly in the preparation of temporary learning spaces or TLS to serve as classrooms, especially in some schools affected by typhoon Nina last December. Mayflor Jumamil, Deped-Bicol spokesperson, said they had prepared for “Balik Eskwela” this schoolyear with 973 TLS units for 402 schools ready for use. The units consisting of galvanized iron sheets and plywood materials as partitions would serve as temporary classrooms until permanent classrooms are constructed. Last December, typhoon Nina destroyed some classrooms in the region, especially those in Catanduanes, and parts of Albay and Camarines Sur. Jumamil said they expect around 1.8 million students to troop to public elementary and high schools in the region. “As of now, we are expecting 1,816,226 learners from public elementary and secondary schools in the region,” she said. Jumamil said, however, that this was not yet the actual number since they were still waiting for the late enrollees or students who would transfer from other schools. She said their data showed a 14.27 percent increase in enrollment this schoolyear compared to the previous year. “We cannot refuse learners that’s why we are still expecting students”, she said. Jumamil said DepEd Assistant Secretary Atty. Revsee Escobedo went to various schools in this city to monitor the opening of classes. “Among the schools he visited in Legazpi City were Ibalong Central School, Oro Site National High School, Legazpi Science High School, Special Education Center and Legazpi Port Elementary School,” she said. Jumamil added that the presence of police officers in all public elementary and high school campuses made the first day of classes smooth, well organized and orderly. Supt. Nilo Berdin, chief of police of the Legazpi City Police Office, said policemen and traffic enforcers have been posted in major streets around schools for “Oplan Balik Eskwela.” At Pag-asa National High School in Barangay Rawis, Legazpi City, where around 3,000 students are enrolled, school principal Jeremy Cruz said the information and assistance desk set up in the school became a useful system. “It helped answer the queries of parents, students, transferees and late enrollees and helped for a smooth opening of classes,” he said. DepEd has implemented the setting up of an Oplan Balik Eskwela Information and Action Center or OBEIAC nationwide to help students, parents and teachers on school opening concerns.

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