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A statistics major, Leticia Subang spent the first 10 years of her professional career as an economic reporter covering for the Philippines' leading business paper. She later opted to become a free lance writer while working for her Masters Degree in Development Management. In the next ten years, she worked for a number of leading government agencies - the National Power Corporation, Public Estates Authority, Departments of Trade and Industry, Agriculture, Labor and Employment, and Energy.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Philippine public schools need 45,000 classrooms, to cost P17 billion

The right of Filipino citizens to quality education at all levels is guaranteed under the 1987 Philippine Constitution. It provides that the state shall take appropriate steps to make education accessible to all and to establish and maintain a system of free public education in the elementary and high school levels.

This mandate carries with it the responsibility of providing the different components of education such as school buildings, textbooks, armchairs, and teachers. Nationwide, in School Year 2002-2003, a total of 16,435,529 students was enrolled in 36,301 and 5,394 elementary and secondary schools, respectively.

In the historical inventory of classrooms prepared by the Department of Education (DepEd), the classroom shortage for SY 2001-2002 for elementary and secondary education was 8,040 and 27,946, respectively or a total of 35,986. This was projected to increase to 44,716 by SY 2003-2004.

The shortage of classrooms is a long-standing issue raised every enrolment period. To ensure that substantial number of classrooms is built, the government is appropriating P2.0 billion annually for the School Building Program (SBP). For this purpose, the government has devised an allocation system that is intended to address equitable and fair allocation of resources. Under Section 4 of R.A. 7880, otherwise known as the “Fair and Equitable Access to Education Act,” 50% of the annual budget is allocated based on the student population, 40% based on classroom shortage and the remaining 10% left to the discretion of the DepEd Secretary.

Under the Act, 90% of the annual appropriation will be released to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) for the implementation of the program while the 10% will be administered by the DepEd.

The budgets for CYs 2002 and 2003 were meant to build 6,154 and 5,330 classrooms, respectively, for elementary and secondary schools considering an average cost of P325,000/classroom in CY 2002 and P375,000/classroom in CY 2003. These units were distributed to the 210 Legislative Districts in accordance with RA 7880 allocations.

These allocations are not sufficient to eliminate the classroom shortage. The National Government is, however, not alone in these endeavour. Local government units (LGUs) and a number of government and private entities are also constructing schools buildings.

Source: Sectoral Performance Audit Report on the School Building Program for Elementary Education of the Department of Education (Cys 2002-2003)
Commission on Audit, August 2004.

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