Sunday, July 10, 2011

DepEd: Partnership with LGUs reduces shortage of classrooms

DepEd: Partnership with LGUs reduces shortage of classrooms 
By Jeffrey Tiangco
July 10, 2011
Journal Online

THE Department of Education (DepEd) yesterday said its partnership with the private sector and the local government units (LGU) will reduce shortage of classrooms in public schools,  citing the 1,054 classrooms worth P800 million set for completion within the year.

The DepEd said another P1 billion worth of classrooms is up for signing with the LGUs and the private sector, adding that the 1, 054 classrooms are products of the 50/50 counter-parting scheme contained in various memoranda of agreement it entered into with the League of Municipalities, the League of Cities and the League of Provinces since January this year.

The DepEd said the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) has also pledged to fund the construction of 1,000 units of fully-equipped classrooms which will be turned over to DepEd by December 2012.

Based on its 2011 actual budget allocation of some P8 billion for classroom construction, DepEd admitted it can only build a maximum of 10,000 classrooms per year. The department was given P207 billion budget this year, a 19 percent hike compared to last year’s P175 billion.

“From this single government corporation alone, 10 percent of our annual capacity to build is already covered,” the DepEd said.

Records showed that there is a shortage of 66, 800 classrooms this school year even as experts pointed out that the influx of students in the public sector, 22.5 million (kindergarten, elementary and secondary) alone this school year, makes it difficult for the government to cope with the problem.

DepEd also has to implement the K to 12 program (the plan to add two more years to the current 10-year basic education cycle), especially because it has started one of the program’s component, the Universal Kindergarten, this school year.

DepEd said that aside from the assistance from the LGUs and other government agencies, the private sector also continues to give funds is by partnering with DepEd’s Adopt-A-School program for the construction of more school buildings under the Bayanihang Pampaaralan program.

Participated in by the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP), League of Corporate Foundation (LCF) and Philippine Business For Education (PBED), the program calls for the construction of 10,000 classrooms around the country in two years.

“To date, the commitment of the government and the private sector to help bridge the classroom shortage sums up to over 12,500 classroom units in two years. All these are on top of the regular classroom construction programmed by DepEd from its annual allocation,” the DepEd said.

Some of the private businesses that have already committed to the public school building construction program are Jollibee Foundation, SM Foundation, Coca Cola Foundation, Petron, Philamlife Foundation, and PLDT.

The Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) has also come up with a proposal that seeks to construct over 200,000 classrooms from 2012 to 2013  employing out-of-the-box solutions to the perennial problem of classroom shortage.

Among the schemes being recommended are rent-to-own or build-operate-transfer, optimum use of Special Education Fund (SEF) generated by LGUs as loan collateral and allocation of a portion of lawmakers’ pork barrel for classroom construction  for at least two years.