DAGUPAN CITY – The Department of Education (DepEd) – Schools Division Office (SDO) Dagupan saw a record high student turn out for this year’s Division Schools Press Conference, doubling the number of students who joined the conference last year.

At least 1,500 young campus journalists joined this year’s DSPC at CSI Stadia, marking a two-fold increase in the student turnout from last year’s 700.

Schools Division Superintendent Dr. Lorna Bugayong said this is due to the support and initiative of Mayor Belen T. Fernandez who allocated a P2-million budget for the competition.

With the sponsorship from the city government, no registration fees were collected for this year’s competition.

“This is the first time that the DSPC will be held for free. This is the very reason that the attendance is (doubled), unlike last year, where there were only a few who could afford the registration fee,” added Dr. Bugayong.

In her message during the occasion, Mayor Belen Fernandez expressed her elation for the massive turnout for this year’s competition.

Fernandez also said she will be allocating more budget in 2019 for training for young student journalists in Dagupan.

“I (already) put P2 million pesos for 2019, but because I’m very sure that the city of Dagupan will have a surplus for 2018, I’m adding another P2 million pesos in support of campus journalism,” said Fernandez.

The 2018 DSPC was held on November 8 to 9, with winners advancing to this year’s Regional Schools Press Conference (RSPC) tol be held in Lingayen, Pangasinan.

Last year, the city scored 59 wins and was adjudged as the 1st runner up in the overall ranking of the competition.

Since then, the city government has worked with DepEd Dagupan to give full support to campus journalists in the city.

Earlier this year, the city government conducted the 2018 Children’s Summit on Journalism at CSI Stadia  participated in by some 20,000 students.

On March, seasoned GMA-7 broadcast journalist Jessica Soho provided a lecture during a masterclass attended by some 1,000 students of the city.

Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Martin Andanar also met with student journalists for a brief forum during his visit to the city last April.

The city government also sponsored a seminar from October 15 to 18 for school papers advisers and campus journalists which served as their training and preparation for this year’s DSPC.

The city-funded Special Program for the Arts (SPA) building located in Dagupan City National High School (DCNHS), which will serve as training ground for students gifted in the arts, will also have areas designed for creative writing and media arts. This is in addition to areas and facilities designed for music, dance and other art forms.

All these are integral in helping develop the characters and skills of the city’s budding journalists, said Mayor Fernandez.

She added that these events will develop responsible journalism among the youth, because delivering correct news and information will help fight the prevalence of fake news. (Verdelle De Vera/CIO)