Pag-asa Island in Kalayaan municipality. | Photo by Naval Forces West (Palawan)

The Department of Education (DepEd) has approved the establishment of the Pag-asa Integrated School (PIS) in the island municipality of Kalayaan, which will begin offering secondary education in the next school year.

Local school authorities are preparing to accept Grade 7 pupils for the School Year 2022-2023 by obtaining more funding and employing new instructors, Roger Capa of the Schools Division Office (SDO) stated.

Likewise, Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson, who recently visited the island, said during the 2022 DepEd budget hearing last week that it should fast-track the creation of an integrated school in Pag-asa Island under its “Last Mile” schools program. He pointed out the lack of a high school as a roadblock to local youth in the town.

Capa explained that the DepEd SDO has long been planning to add secondary education level to the school in Pag-asa island. The school, which currently offers only elementary education, is the only one in the municipality, according to Capa. There are currently 34 students enrolled from Kindergarten to Grade 6.

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“Actually matagal na rin naming balak na i-apply for coversion ng Pag-asa Elementary School para maging Pag-asa Integrated School. In-apply na namin last week, sinubmit na namin ang papers for application. Mabilis din naman ang aksyon ng LGU (local government unit) ng Kalayaan, mabilis ang pag-submit ng aming office, at mabilis din ang proseso sa regional office kaya na-approve agad, kasi special case ito,” Capa said in an interview on Tuesday.

“Binigyan ng instructions ang mga teacher doon [sa Pag-asa] na mag-survey sa mga out-of-school-youth doon na gustong mag-enrol sa Grade 7 next year. Nakahanap sila ng anim. So expected namin na sa Grade 7 next school year ay 10 [students], kasi may apat kami ngayon na Grade 6. And naghahanap pa sila ngayon, baka madagdagan pa,” he added.

Capa added that they are currently working out the budget allocation for the school with the DepEd national office and are also set to hire more teachers for the high school levels.

“Ang Provincial SEF (Special Education Fund) ay nag-allocate ng P10.6-million para sa construction ng additional classrooms. Ang isa pang ire-request namin [sa national office] ay additional teacher items,” he added.

Lacson also noted during the DepEd budget hearing that because there was no high school in the KIG, children had “no more future” after Grade 6. He also pointed out that only three teachers were assigned to teach the 34 students, all in varying grades, at the school. Capa likewise added that some students would not even bother to enrol in Grade 1.

“’Yong mga ibang nakakaangat, pumupunta sa Puerto Princesa para mag-high school. ‘Yong iba naman, hindi na nag-aaral. ‘Yong iba nga hindi na nag-eenrol kahit Grade 1 kasi sabi nila, wala ring pupuntahan dahil wala namang high school,” he said.

“Ngayon at mayroon na, panibagong pag-asa. Kung magsisimula tayo sa Grade 7 next school year, pataas nang pataas na ‘yan hanggang siguro senior high school din,” he added.

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is a senior reporter for Palawan News who covers politics, education, environment, tourism, and human interest stories. She loves watching Netflix, reading literary fiction, and listens to serial fiction podcasts. Her favorite color is blue.