DepEd to miss target in building needed classrooms
MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Education (DepEd) may not reach its earlier target of addressing classroom shortage by the end of 2013, citing delays caused by bad weather and procurement processes.
The department identified a shortage of 66,800 classrooms at the beginning of the Aquino administration in mid-2010. As of June 30 this year, 43,424 classrooms have been constructed
"According to PAGASA, typhoons hit the country around September. This is why we're already speeding up the construction [of classrooms]," Education Assistant Secretary Jesus Mateo told Rappler on Tuesday, July 16.
"But we are on the right track," said Assistant Secretary Tonisito Umali, setting a new target – at least by the end of the school year in March 2014 – for the remaining 23,376 rooms to be finished.
Umali asked the public's understanding for the possible delay in addressing the classroom shortage.
"You can see what the government is doing [about] basic education. I hope people can see that...and I hope [they] give the department a little leeway to miss its target," he said.
Mateo said they are already filling up the shortages in teachers, books, comfort rooms and classroom seats.
|TEACHERS||145,827||102, 623 hired|
|CLASSROOM SEATS||2.5 million||1.29 M delivered, 1.7 M procured|
|WATER & SANITATION||135,000||26, 773 constructed|
|LEARNING MATERIALS||62.4 million||62.1 M delivered, 3 M procured|
"If there's a department secretary who's really working, that's no one else but Brother Armin Luistro, and it's dismaying when people don't see this," Mateo said.
Private sector's help
Mateo said DepEd added P1 billion to the annual P2 billion fund alloted to the construction of regular school buildings.
Aside from these, the department is building classrooms through efforts of other organizations like the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR), private corporation partners under the Adopt-A-School program, and the Private-Public Partnership Program (PPP).
"Brother Armin [goes] out, literally, from office to office, to get private corporations and individuals to donate classrooms," Umali said.
Mateo attributed the success of DepEd's PPP to the department's transparency and the careful study of the program's market and viability.
The first phase of PPP under the build-operate-lease-transfer scheme (BLT) will be implemented within a 10-year period, which started last year.
Under the BLT, the maintenance cost of the classrooms is passed on to the builder, which means higher costs for the government.
Phase two, on the other hand, will be under the build-operate-transfer (BOT), a cheaper scheme wherein maintenance cost is passed on instead to the government.
An P8-billion budget has been alloted for the second phase.
The bidding was originally set to begin Thursday, July 18, with 4 construction firms deemed eligible to participate. DepEd, however, said they are considering the bidders' request for an extension of bid submission.
Two of the bidders – Megawide and BF Corporation – are already invoved in the first phase of the project.
Mateo hopes the new technologies employed in the PPP can address the classroom shortage in time for next school year. – Rappler.com