“If there is only one elementary and there are two teachers, what will happen to the children after finishing Grade 6? Because the nearest place to study high school is Puerto Princesa which will take several days to reach,” he said.
“I think this is a cause for concern because after Grade 6, no more. That’s the end,” he said, speaking in a mix of Filipino and English. “The children have no more future. So I’m just wondering what the department can do in this situation, Probably, we can put up [a high school] under the last-mile schools program?”
The program seeks to address the gaps in resources and facilities of schools located in geographically isolated and disadvantaged and conflict-affected areas.
“It’s either we put up a high school building or let’s just integrate them. But we should also hire at least one teacher — multigraded — to help teach from kindergarten to high school, at least,” Lacson further said.
Sen. Pia Cayetano, who defended the DepEd budget, said the situation painted by Lacson was similar to what she had witnessed in her previous visits to mountain villages.
“There are multilevel schools. Sometimes they are not multilevel. Sometimes they are multi-level schools for grade school. And then they have to travel either by foot for two to four hours to the high school. Or more often than not, they would then have to dorm,” Cayetano said.
“Which I feel is very difficult because they would only be in junior high — what 13 years old? They already have to dorm,” she added.
In answering Lacson’s concern, Cayetano said the DepEd was planning to put up a high school in the area.
“The answer of DepEd here is that they will go with the age of the children. If they are high school students already then they will already include that for the building,” she explained.
“I think that is the plan. But the reality is we will find — like I said in the mountain villages that I visited — there were no high schools at all… But the plan is that there should be high schools there — somewhat like creating integrated schools,” she added.