Hope for Pag-asa Youth: DepEd Approves Integrated Elementary and High School in Pag-Asa Island in Kalayaan

Finally, hope for a shot at a better life for the youth of Pag-asa Island in the Kalayaan Island Group in the West Philippine Sea.

Sen. Panfilo “Ping” M. Lacson stressed this after the Department of Education approved on November 29 the Pag-asa Island Integrated Elementary and High School effective next school year, 2022-2023.

“Thank you, Department of Education for this: Approval of the Pag-asa Integrated Elementary and High School effective next School Year, 2022-2023. Certainly a big step of HOPE for the young people of Kalayaan,” Lacson said on his Twitter account Monday afternoon.

Related: DepEd, Inaprubahan ang Integrated Elementary and High School sa Pag-Asa Island sa Kalayaan

Last week, upon Lacson‘s manifestation during the DepEd’s budget plenary debates in the Senate, he sought additional school facilities and teachers in Pag-asa Island after learning of the plight of learners there when he visited the area last Nov. 20. He also pushed for added benefits for teachers, as the island has only one elementary school and two teachers catering to 34 students coming from 54 households, with the students having little hope of a high school education.

Such a situation is a cause for concern as the students will not have any more opportunity for higher education – and a better future – once they graduate from Grade 6.

The nearest place for the students to study high school is Puerto Princesa City in Palawan, which will take more than a day to reach, he lamented.

At the time, Lacson proposed that the government put up a high school building or integrate the high school facilities with the existing elementary school building; and hire at least one multigrade teacher who can teach high school.

Meanwhile, Lacson sought the DepEd’s commitment for a Special Hardship Allowance (SHA) for the two teachers in Pag-asa Island, noting this can be taken from the budget for the Last Mile Schools program.

He said that since the DepEd’s circular does not allow a teacher to receive SHA for two more categories, the two teachers at Pag-asa Island are given only one hardship allowance per year – yet they experience more than one factor of difficulty – difficulties in travel and in teaching, as well as in access to amenities.

They also fall into two categories of eligibility for SHA – located in hardship posts and multi-grade teachers.

Lacson has been pushing for an “Edukasyon Plus” program to break the cycle of poverty that has hounded many Filipino families. “Edukasyon Plus” also provides free tuition and a monthly allowance of P5,000 for the period of internship for qualified senior high school students (Grades 11 and 12) who enter a government internship program.