Teardrops of BESTanes educational system
by: Ma. Jamila A. Calucag

LIKE AN icing atop an el-egant and irresistible cake, Ba-tanes has the sweetest breeze, the most majestic flora and fauna and the best destination in the Pearl of the Orient. Aside from being at the northern tip of the Philippine archipelago, Batanes has been holding the title “Best Educational System” in the country since 2009 as in-scribed in the latest United Na-tions report.

According to NCCA and DepEd latest data and forecast, Batanes has the highest literacy rate of 95% against the national average literacy rate of 93%. Moreover, the latest figures re-trieved from the Division Of-fice of the DepEd and posted in www.DepEd.gov.ph strongly suggest that Batanes has a very satisfying ratio of classroom to students and teacher to students which are 1:13 and 1:14, re-spectively. Such data are much lower compared to the target of the Department of Education which is 1:40.

Mr. Oliver Cariaso, Plan-ning Officer III, Department of Education-Batanes, said that pupils and students are carefully monitored in the classrooms, hence the high literacy rate. “It further implies that there is no scarcity of teachers in Batanes,” Mr. Cariaso opined in an inter-v ie w.

With regard to student headcount, the gross enrolment of elementary level and second-ary level for school year 2013-2014 is 109.24% and 95.03% re-spectively. This shows that most of the Ivatans are enjoying edu-cation at their age. Also, 96.91% and 95.57% of the Ivatan stu-dents in elementary and sec-ondary levels, correspondingly, completed their respective year levels. Cariaso mentioned that only 3.9% and 4.43% of the el-ementary and secondary stu-dents, respectively, had not con-tinued their regular schooling.

Since the province cannot get away from having school leavers, DepEd Batanes offers intervention programs that cater to them and that aim to diminish the number of out-of-school youth. The two main programs of DepEd Batanes are the Alternative Learning System (ALS), which has been practiced for years now, and the Abot-Alam Program. Accord-ing to Cariaso the new program offers 3 E’s which are entrepre-neurship, employment and ed-ucation. As of this school year, there are 621 Abot-Alam learn-ers in the province. In Basco alone, there are 107 Abot-Alam learners, both 118 in Mahatao and Ivana-Uyugan, 85 in Sab-tang and 193 in Itbayat.

Anyone would envy the academic life of the Ivatans. Should this trend of satisfying statistics continue to sail along Batanes, then the home of the peace-loving Ivatans may soon become the island of the peace-loving professionals.

But behind the awe-inspir-ing statistics on literacy rate, behind the astonishing title of having the best educational sys-tem in the country, behind the loud and reverberating broad-cast of this achievement are the soft shrieks, the soft clamors, the soft cries of the province, beckoning the Ivatan profes-sionals who, as if, turned their backs to her and opted to work in the mainland and abroad. According to the latest National Statistics Office data, for every 100 Ivatan diploma holders, al-most two or three of them have nodded to their itchy feet to fly outside Batanes.

Batanes’ teardrops are si-lent blames to the small per-centage of work opportunities in the province. Until now, the province’s main source of in-come is still nailed into farming. Almost 45% of the population is engaged into farming and other agricultural ventures and 35% into other skills-related enter-prises. Also, the large slice of the income of the province is still dependent to the national government as gleaned on the Government Appropriations Act. Admittedly, everything is limited in Batanes. Like the Ba-tanes waves during typhoons, the status of living in Batanes is surging, much higher, much more expensive as compared to the mainland’s.

Undoubtedly, Batanes’ sit-uation mirrors the predicament of the national scenario. In the Philippines, for every 15 col-lege graduates, three are leaving the country to seek for employ-ment.

Yes, education is expensive, but that is not the issue because anyone can invest and is willing to plunge into the river of loans and other ways of wherewithal just to capture the shining pearl of education. The problem springs outside the schools in the country where the real field of work gives limited doors of opportunities.

How many Batanes whose cries are unheard in the coun-try? If true enough that educa-tion is the solution, why does Batanes, along with her cousin provinces in the country, con-tinue to silently reckon the best products of the best educational system?

Will you be the first one to wipe the teardrops of BESTanes educational system?

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