DepEd Undersecretary (Usec.) Alain Del B. Pascua visited the Municipality of Jagna on 22 August 2019 through the initiative of Mayor Joseph A. Raňola.

In a meeting with the Heads of Public Schools and the PTA, held at Capt Goyo Hall, the Usec. who is in charge of school buildings across the country under DepEd, pledged his commitment to Jagna (not just to the Mayor) that all 27 schools of Jagna for repair and rehabilitation will be done during the three-year term of Mayor Raňola as the Local Chief Executive.

True to his commitment to Jagna, Usec. Pascua revealed the new/ongoing construction projects of two school buildings with 3-story, 12-classrooms worth 29M respectively awarded to Lonoy Heroes and Jagna High School. He briefly explained the background on how DepEd projects are processed. First, the projects are listed on a 5-year plan to be checked and assessed (e.g. Classroom Shortage, Buildable Space, Soil Testing, etc.) by the DepEd Engineer together with the DPWH Engineer. Second, if these projects passed the requirements, the proposed project (or a new proposal) will be submitted on a queue listing. Third, project implementation (a go signal) will depend on the DepEd budget allocation for projects released every year.

The priority of DepEd projects for 2020 will be for the last-mile schools. These far flung schools will be provided with the same standard building model and specifications with the provision of computers and relevant learning materials. He also tackled the current DepEd issue on textbooks procurement problem for Grade 6 and puzzled printing of materials for Senior High due to diverse and numerous tracks offering. The Usec. conveyed possible solutions to these problems would be 1. Fast-tracking the procurement process. 2. Get the lacking materials to buffer the demand of supplies. 3. Moving towards tablet or cellphone devices and open education resources.

The Usec. asked the principals to right down a list of their school’s lacking textbooks, existing computerization program, whether usable or damaged equipment, buildings and chairs excluding arm chairs which are considered obsolete and are only consumable within five years as DepEd is now issuing tables and chairs geared towards the student’s use of tablet and laptops in the near future. The lists from the principals are to be considered as a direct report to the Undersecretary for immediate action and possible solutions.

As of now, school’s perimeter fence, gate, pathway, courts, stage and security guards are not yet included in the program of DepEd. The department is not yet authorized to build these items under the General Appropriations Act (GAA) as DepEd’s budget is focused on classrooms and learning materials but instead it is being suggested to encourage partnerships with the LGUs, NGOs and other stakeholders to put in their funds depending on their budget.

Concerning the school’s acquisition of land, DepEd has a very small fund to acquire lands and advised the school heads to ask assistance from the LGU thru the use of rack agreement with the LGU.

With regards to the Teachers’ salary increase, the Usec. inspired the crowd that most probably the President will approve the increase this year and added that the President wants to implement the Salary Standardization Law 5 (SSL 5).

Schools were encouraged to build sports club and adopt sports as mandatory rather than a priority. DepEd is now drafting sports basics, manuals and specifications for the standardization of the 27 sports in DepEd. Training and certification (with the equivalent teaching load) of sports coaches and coordinators have been laid-down with the drafted sports basics for implementation within the next two years.

DepEd is working out for an additional regular item for Administrative Staff for every school to act as Property Custodian which is currently a designated position. Lacking School Head or Principal Position is being addressed and encouraged to create a work place with the assistance of the Usec.’s Secretariat. An institutionalized mandatory reshuffling of Supervisors and up positions will be done every 3 years.

School based feeding program for this year will start feeding children with fresh milk and it’s up to the school where to source out the dairy product. “Feed All” policy was adapted last year for the last-mile schools or with less than 100 enrollees. The framework of the feeding program is for the hungry children who come to school because of poverty and not that the department is in charged for the nutrition of the children. Malnutrition program is under DOH and DSWD. Feeding program is implemented to attract children to come to school.

Unlike the elementary level, hunger is not the primary reason why High School students don’t go to school. There are two major reasons for High School absenteeism.  One is because of student’s early marriage and early pregnancy and the other reason is because the student needs to work to financially support his studies. That is why there’s no feeding program intervention being offered to high school but DepEd is strengthening the reproductive health education program.

Clinics will be provided to cluster of schools with the provision of medical equipment like dental chair, medical diagnosis table, medicines and supplies.

DepEd is currently reviewing the policies on ranking and promotion and looking on a rational promotion system as well as the LSEN (Learners with Special Education Needs) and MAPASA programs. The high qualification requirement of the School Guidance Counselor item with low salary is on modification process with the DBM to become Counselor Aide with higher salary grade.

The existing old Marcos type buildings in Jagna needs to be replaced as these are already obsolete. The Mayor through the Municipal Engineer has the power to condemn the old Marcos type buildings so that the replacement building would become a priority for construction.

Renovation is on the way for the Heritage/Gabaldon buildings of the Jagna Central Elementary School. These Gabaldon buildings has its own separate fund allocation for the restoration efforts that goes through the National Historical Commission and the National Museum. Currently DepEd is implementing the Repair One Repair All policy of the public schools.

The principal’s Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE) is now moved to have a categorization to address the different external representations like those for sports, trainings, etc. DepEd is now proposing to have a school sports fund to cater the utilization of after school sports and the creation of sports club and varsities.

The quorum thanked Usec. Pascua for this rare consultation opportunity which was made possible through Mayor Raňola’s friendship with the Usec. The meeting ended with the Usec.’s commitment to uplift the educational status of Jagna.

After lunch, Usec. Pascua together with Mayor Raňola, Councilor Anthony Aniscal and some of the DepEd officials visited the heritage house of Jagna Mayor Joseph A. Raňola, Jagna Central Elementary School, Tubod Monte Integrated School (TMIS), Malbog Elementary School. Usec. Pascua being a seminarian before, enjoyed visiting the Birhen sa Barangay Ilihan Shrine and the San Pedro Calungsod Shrine.

Jagna is grateful for the Usec.’s visit and commitment to the town with the initiative of Mayor Joseph A. Ranola.

 

=== Credits to Kag. Tonton Aniscal for the Photos and Live Video Streaming. ===