Saturday, July 09, 2011

Groups commit to build 12,000 classrooms in 2 years

Groups commit to build 12,000 classrooms in 2 years
By Virgil Lopez
July 9, 2011
Sun.Star Manila

THE Department of Education (DepEd) said its call to ease classroom shortage has been generating positive responses across different sectors as partners from government and the private sector pledge assistance.

A total of 1,054 classrooms have been committed for completion within the school year, worth over P800 million under the 50/50 counter parting scheme between DepEd and some local government units.

Education Secretary Armin Luistro said another commitment for more than P1-billion worth of classrooms is up for signing in the weeks ahead.

One thousand fully equipped classrooms from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) are up for turn-over to DepEd by December 2012.

Meanwhile, the private sector will reportedly construct 10,000 classrooms nationwide in two years as provided under the Bayanihang Pampaaralan program.

These will be participated in by the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP), League of Corporate Foundation (LCF) and Philippine Business for Education (PBED).

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.

Still, the number is a far cry from the estimated 152,000 classroom shortage for school year 2011-2012 alone based on DepEd data.

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 following out-of-the-box solutions to the perennial problem of classroom shortage.

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

All this is on top of the regular classroom construction programmed by DepEd from its annual allocation.

Based on its 2011 actual budget allocation of some P8 billion for classroom construction, the DepEd can only build a maximum of 10,000 classrooms per year.

The Philippines’ public educational system suffered a decline in quality over the past decades, attributed to lack of government attention in solving classroom and teacher shortage, among others.

DepEd data also show that the country lacks 103,599 teachers, 13,225,527 chairs, and 95,557,957 textbooks this school year.