Oplan Balik-Eskwela 2011

Oplan Balik Eskwela is an initiative by the Department of Education (DepEd) in preparation for the opening of the school year. For this year, classes started last Monday, June 6. All private and public school are encouraged by DepEd to participate in its activities and to make sure that children are properly enrolled and be able to attend school. 

Of course, DepEd alone would not be able to implement its objectives without the help from other government agencies, communities, and other stakeholders. That is why they are making convergence with other departments. Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA), for example, should make sure the manageability of traffic conditions. As we all know, Metro Manila is a congested place. In fact Metro Manila is in Top 6 of Asian cities with largest population, according to Wikipedia. The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) will be assisting them especially with public transportation concerns, e.g. fares, complaints, etc.

Balik-Eskwela tarpaulin just outside the 7-11 store in Lower Bicutan

The Department of National Defense (DND) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) are tasked to ensure student safety and security. Parents and guardians should likewise protect their children to avoid kidnappings, sexual harassment, or accidents. Ensuring the stability of prices for school supplies is the main objective of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). The Department of Health (DOH) is mandated to ensure student health and availability of emergency medical services in times of accidents. The  agency should make sure that every school must have a clinic and a nurse or doctor. 

What about the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH)? It is the agency's responsibility to ensure the preparation of school buildings and roads. They need to make sure that the places where the children go are safe places (hindi 'yong buildings na inaanay na). MERALCO, Manila Water, and MWSS ensure supply of public utilities such as water and electricity in all schools. And PAGASA should make advance announcements and advisories regarding the weathe.

Oplan Balik Eskwela likewise coordinates with the respective Local Government Units (LGUs). In Taguig City, tarpaulins and other banners were posted in conspicuous places all over the city just like the picture above in Lower Bicutan. Mayor Lani Cayetano, through the Office of the City Mayor, provides free, brand new school uniforms, P.E. shirts, and towels, pencil cases with school accessories, notebooks, and school bags. 

One of the busiest streets in Taguig City: Intersection between
M.L. Quezon St., and the General Santos Avenue (going to the newly constructed C-6)

According to the DepEd's fact sheet (I downloaded the Excel file from the department's website), as of school year 2009-2010, there are 44,846 elementary schools in the entire archipelago and 10,384 high schools. In the same school year, enrollment statistics accounts for 13,934,172 pupils in elementary level and 6,806,079 for high school students in addition to 1,474,644 pre-school enrollment. 

Preparing students for the opening of each school year is really a big challenge for the government and the citizens, so let us help one another as we face this challenge of our generation and the future.

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