PPSRNP park superintendent Beth Maclang (fourth from left, in white) stands with city DepEd officials, who facilitated the soft opening of Marufinas High School. (Photo courtesy of Beth Maclang)

A new public high school that aims to make secondary education more accessible was inaugurated Sunday in Barangay Marufinas.

The establishment of the Marufinas High School was spearheaded by the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park (PPSRNP) management through its volunteering arm Project Happiness, with help from the public and private sector.

The school, which currently offers only Grade 7 and 8, also aims to provide education to teens whose parents cannot afford to send them to a high school outside their barangay, according to PPSRNP park superintendent Beth Maclang.

“Madalas, maraming hindi na nag-eenrol kasi magastos at malayo sa pamilya. Tatawid pa sila ng dagat para pumunta sa Barangay Cabaguyan o New Panggangan. Kapag maalon, minsan a-absent sila,” Maclang said in an interview on Tuesday.

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Maclang added that aside from logistical difficulties, high schoolers who would need to be away from their families and stay in rented rooms were also at risk of teen pregnancy.

“Madaming cases in early pregnancy, kasi nagbo-boarding house sila. Walang guidance ng magulang,” she added.

The school is currently sharing a space with Marufinas Elementary School, which is where teachers can distribute learning modules to their enrollees. According to Maclang, three teachers were already hired by the Department of Education (DepEd) to teach the enrollees. There are currently 34 Grade 7 students and 22 Grade 8 students, she added.

Planning for the creation of the high school began in 2019, with the help of PPSRNP community organizers and teachers in the area. A public consultation was then held, and in 2020, Project Happiness initiated the processing of requirements. In August 2021, the City Council endorsed the creation of the school through a resolution. Organizers are now working towards constructing a school building and securing other resources needed for the school.

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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.