30,000 new classrooms for Filipino kids

The Department of Education is rolling out a pubic-private partnership to build 30,000 new classrooms, with the first batch aimed at schools in Ilocos, Central Luzon and Calabarzon

MANILA, Philippines- To plug the country’s classroom shortage, the Department of Education is launching an aggressive public-private partnership (PPP) program aimed at constructing 30,000 new classrooms by January 2013. 

As of 2011, the Department of Education estimated that the country lacked at least twice that many classrooms. The country has a booming population (projected at over 94 million and heavily skewed towards the youth) and hasn’t been able to supply the space needed to teach the growing mass of school children.

Now the Department of Education is pouring in money to fill the gap. The Public-Private Partnership for School Infrastructure Project (PSIP) has an estimated pricetag of P10.4 billion. At the PSIP’s Investor Conference on Wednesday, February 22, Education Secretary Bro. Armin Luistro expressed hope that the project would help fill the country’s need for 10,000 new classrooms every year.

So who gets what first?

The first phase of the project will bring around 9,332 classrooms to Regions I, III and IV-A or Calabarzon.

“The project will be done through 3 contract packages which will be implemented simultaneously,” he sai, adding that the winning bidder will be chosen among the firms with the lowest cost. 

Region I (Package A for 2,050 classrooms)

Pangasinan – 1,432 classrooms

Ilocos Sur – 292 classrooms

La Union – 189 classrooms

Ilocos Norte – 137 classrooms

Region III (Package B for 2,999 classrooms)

Zambales – 193 classrooms

Tarlac – 297 classrooms

Nueva Ecija – 1,080 classrooms

Aurora – 62 classrooms

Bataan – 14 classrooms

Pazmpanga – 477 classrooms

Bulacan – 876 classrooms

Region IV-A (Contract C for 4,283 classrooms)

Quezon – 1,142 classrooms

Laguna – 1,073 classrooms

Cavite – 887 classrooms

Batangas – 717 classrooms

Rizal – 464 classrooms

The classrooms listed above in the 1st batch are due to be bidded out by June 29. According to DepEd, the 2nd and 3rd batches should be bidded out in the second half of 2012. DepEd wants construction of the 3rd batch to start in January of 2013.

Secretary Luistro said, “We’re just being cautious na ayaw naming in one lot, 30,000 kaagad kasi medyo mahirap yun.”

Clean bidding 

Luistro was vocal that the bidding would be transparent and upfront. He said parties, dinner invitations and other unnecessary favors presented to him or any official in the Department of Education would be counted as a point against the interested bidder. He even encouraged investors to name DepEd employees who asked for bribes in exchange for a favorable decision. 

According to DepEd Undersecretary Francisco Varela, nearly 15 firms have already purchased the bid documents. Varela thinks the number is a good size for ensuring a clean and competitive bidding process. Though he said it would be ideal if in the coming days, 5 to 10 more firms purchased the documents.

Varela said that of the firms that purchased bid documents, the majority were local though there were also international companies. He said some tie-ups could emerge that the DepEd would be able to identify once the pre-qualification documents were submitted on March 23.

For potential investors, Luistro had a clear message. “I will be very direct in saying that it would be important for me, as we initiate this project that you remove from the cost, in your budget, anything related to representation, anything related to gifts, whether this is prior to, during, or after the construction because I think that would be bad business.”

Not only upright but also efficient firms are needed so that Filipino children can get to the business of studying as soon as possible. –Rappler.com

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