‘Multigrade’ classes bring basic education to remote areas

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By Nikka Garriga

PASIG CITY, METRO MANILA – The Department of Education (DepEd) continues to hold multigrade classes in an effort to ensure all students complete their basic education.

A multigrade class consists of two or more different grade levels in a single grade classroom manned by one teacher for an entire school year.

It is often implemented in elementary schools located at remote and sparsely-populated localities. About a million pupils are enrolled in multigrade classes across the country, according to DepEd data.

Most of these students, according to DepEd chief Armin Luistro, belong to isolated, poor and indigenous communities in far-flung mountains and islands where schools are far apart from each other.

“This is part of our thrust to democratize access to education and make the learning experience inclusive to as many sectors. In effect, we are bringing more students to school,” Luistro said.

If a class does not meet the required number of enrollees – therefore, it is not viable to conduct a class of limited number of pupils – the supposed enrollees are merged into a single class and taught by one teacher.

A multigrade class takes into consideration factors such as the small number of students for each grade level; the shortage of teachers; the distance from the community to the nearest school; and the inadequacy of funds and classrooms.

DepEd began integrating multigrade classes in the formal curriculum and continued its operation during the 1990s in keeping with its Education for All (EFA) agenda.

It gathers children with different skills and abilities, different developmental levels and needs in a class while working together under the guidance of one teacher.

In the Philippine public school system, combination classes are those with two grade levels inside a single classroom and handled by the same teacher.

Multigrade or multi-level classes, on the other hand, are those with three grade levels in one classroom and handled by a single teacher.

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