To highlight the importance that the city government attaches to education as playing a pivotal role in the city’s future development, Mayor Edward S. Hagedorn launched the City Education Enhancement Program. The project intends to improve the standard of education within the service area of the city government by identifying and prioritizing the establishment of schools, and organizing a continuous training scheme for schoolteachers in the city. It laid the groundwork for the separation of the School for Philippine Craftsmen from Palawan Integrated National School (PINS) and its conversion into a School of Arts and Trade. It proposed the establishment of the City Manpower Training and Development Center. It assisted in the preparation of documents required for the recognition of PINS-Annex High Schools of Bgys. Luzviminda, San Rafael, and Sta. Lourdes.
School Buildings – The city government constructed five 2-storey school-buildings with sixty classrooms, one City High School building, two Technical School buildings, and eighteen Elementary School buildings.
Day Care Centers – A total of 15 new day care centers were constructed to augment the existing centers in order to be able to meet the needs of the infants while their mothers are busy working.
Satellite Libraries – Although conceived primarily as an educational support program, the Satellite Libraries has become a very important tool in the city Government’s environmental protection campaign. Consider the following:
Forty-two of Puerto Princesa City’s sixty-six barangays are in rural areas. About 86,255 or 64.8 % of the city’s population reside in these 42 remote barangays, engaged mostly in fishing or farming. Each of these barangays has its own elementary schools; seven have secondary school of learning. Total student population is estimated at some 12,060. Not one of these rural elementary and secondary schools has a functional library. So where do the students run to for research? Nowhere! To go to the city proper where the City Library is located is impractical, given the distance, time and infrequency of transport.
A library service was a long felt need of the city’s constituents in far-flung barangays. To address the need, seven Satellite Libraries were initially established; one each for the barangay with a High School. An additional two were put up in strategic locations. Each Satellite Library is equipped with research materials such as encyclopedias and dictionaries, newspapers, and a variety of livelihood and how-to reading materials. Reading, the source of all higher learning, is gradually becoming a hobby among a group of people who had previously been deprived of its pleasures and benefits.
Undoubtedly, one of the bigger reasons why many of the city’s graduates from rural schools compare poorly with their urban counterparts is the absence or the inadequacy of reading and research materials for both the teachers and students in the rural areas. This is a sad fact considering that a great bulk of the primary and secondary studentry comes from the rural areas.
For poor rural families, to hope to be able to buy for themselves these materials maybe like hoping for the moon. Even to send their children to school is already quite a drain in their resources, not to mention the time that could have been spent fishing or plowing the field to help ensure that there will be food on the table tomorrow. And to expect the teachers, who can hardly keep their body and soul together, to fill the gap is really expecting too much.
The City Government of Puerto Princesa, therefore, embarked on the program in line with its Education Enhancement Plan to make the standard of the city’s education at par with their metropolitan counterparts. And while at it, help improve the rural community’s income potential by also making available various teach-yourself magazines from the Technology and Livelihood Resource Center (TLRC) and Negosiete.
Thus, the Satellite Libraries do not cater to the educational needs of the students alone but also to those of the farmers, fishermen, housewives, and out-of-school youth to make them more productive citizens of the city through various livelihood technologies.
Since established, the nine Satellite Libraries have become home to numerous readers from all walks of the rural community’s life. They have provided the rural people not only with alternative sources of information and learning, but also with worth-while venues by which they spend their spare times. The subsequent years promise to bring them more wholesome and productive opportunities through the introduction of television and video sets that will feature different Video Technology Courses also from the TLRC and Negosiete.
The Satellite Libraries Program is one of the Top-20 Finalists in the 1995 Galing Pook Award.
Teachers – The administration realizes that teachers are not only pillars and leaders of the community, but they are partners in all development efforts of the city as well. They comprise the largest professional group in our society with enormous responsibilities, yet are among the lowest paid public servants. The city government therefore gave them the following benefits:
Longevity Pay – The city government paid P100.00 for every year of service to each of the 735 elementary and secondary school teachers of the city.
Monthly additional allowance – The program was designed to develop skills and methodology in teaching. It consists of teacher’s training workshop conducted among school administrator, teachers and coordinator of all schools in the city introducing modern conceptual approaches in teaching. Specifically, it conducted training among 162 English teachers from the following schools: 17 public and 4 private schools, and 2 state institutions. It distributed a total of 1800 textbooks to teachers and students alike.
Students – The city government acknowledges that the students of today are the leaders of tomorrow. It has therefore adopted measures to see to it that they get the best preparation possible. Some of these measures are the following:
Scholarship Program – it annually sets aside funds to defray the educational expenses of poor but deserving college freshmen. More concretely, it provides free tuition, books, transportation, uniform and miscellaneous fees until the candidate finishes a bachelor’s degree. The city government has already granted Scholarship Grants to 85 students: five graduated last March 1995 and one in October 1995. Twenty-six are graduating this March 1996.
Special Program for Employment of Students (SPES)- Under this program, qualified students are given by the city government doing various jobs as a means of preparing them for their future tasks. Through this, they are given the opportunity to earn the money for their own education.