School opening ‘peaceful, orderly’

By Rainier Allan Ronda
– It was a “very smooth and orderly” opening of classes for the 19.46 million public school students yesterday, according to Education Secretary Jesli Lapus.

In an interview, Lapus said they did not encounter any “extraordinary” problems in welcoming back the millions of public school students.

“All (public) schools have been opened today,” he said to reporters.

“We want to commend our workers and our partners in the Oplan Balik Eskwela (OBE) effort.”

Lapus said he is very pleased with the results of the Department of Education’s preparation for this year’s school opening.

Lapus, in an early morning tour of several schools in Metro Manila with other government officials, said that flow of traffic was orderly and that peace and order “had prevailed.”

The weather also cooperated since no heavy rains marred the first day of school yesterday, he added.

Lapus said that compared to previous years, the OBE Command Center had received only 352 complaints and inquiries as of 10 a.m. yesterday.

Lapus said in past years, complaints and inquiries already numbered more than 500 in the days leading up to the school opening.

“Only twenty percent of these calls pertain to collection of fees. We have taken immediate action on all the complaints and queries received by the Command Center,” he said.

Lapus said their strict enforcement of the no-fee collection policy had resulted in the relief of one public school principal.

“We want parents to send their children to school and get an education so we are seriously implementing a no-fee collection and no school uniform policy in public schools,” he said.

Ferlinda Rigo, principal of the Sauyo Elementary School in Navotas, was ordered relieved after three complaints for alleged collection of fees were received by the OBE Command Center.

The following government agencies and private companies supported DepEd’s Oplan Balik Eskwela 2009: the Departments of Trade and Industry, Health, Interior and Local Government, Public Works and Highways, Transportation and Communications, National Defense; Metro Manila Development Authority; Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services and Administration; Philippine National Police; Manila Electric Co.; Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System; Manila Water Corp. and Maynilad Water Inc.

Police reports

No untoward incident was recorded as students returned to school yesterday, according to Philippine National Police spokesman Chief Superintendent Nicanor Bartolome.

In Metro Manila, Chief Superintendent Roberto Rosales said police will continue to be on full alert for the next two weeks, as private schools and colleges next week start their school year.

Policemen will not be allowed to go on leave to maximize police visibility in schools and universities, he added.

Rosales visited the P. Gomez Elementary School in Sta. Cruz, Manila and the Ramon Magsaysay High School in Sta. Mesa, Manila.

He also toured the Caloocan National High School, which has the most number of students in the country at 9,343.

Rosales has called on Metro Manila public school superintendents and Parents and Teacher Association officials to help adopt the Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) system, an innovative way to ensure the safety and security of students while inside school premises.

The RFID is a relatively new technology that uses a device attached to an object, identification card for example, for purposes of identifying and tracking the person or the carrier of the object using radio waves, he added.

Rosales said this RFID tag can be read from several meters.

“RFID is now being used by some manufacturing companies in managing inventories of their products,” he said.

“It is also being used in some hospitals abroad to help doctors and nurses retrieve medical data of patients given an RDID device through a handheld device connected to a central server.”

Rosales asked school officials to consider the use of RFID to monitor the whereabouts of students while inside the campus and to prevent the entry of unauthorized individuals posing as students. — With Cecille Suerte Felipe

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