Recto wants itemized projects in DepEd's classroom budget

MANILA, Philippines – To speed up the construction of new classrooms and address the backlogs, the Department of Education (DepEd) should identify in the national budget the schools where the new classrooms will be built, Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto said.

The senator's proposal comes after DepEd told the House of Representatives that a total of P98.5 billion in funds for the construction of classrooms remain unspent – P44.6 billion from 2014 and P53.8 billion for 2015.

“The only solution is to itemize the school-building fund. How many classrooms will be built in what schools and how much is the authorized budget for each?" Recto said in a statement on Wednesday, September 16.

He added, “Unbundling the classroom budget fund will solve one of the main causes of delay, which is too much time spent in choosing, evaluating and approving school sites."

The senator also wanted DepEd to present a list of particulars to accompany its proposed P61.8 billion fund for the construction of 43,000 classrooms for 2016.

Without an enumeration of the project sites or details of the classroom construction, Recto said this was "zero-based knowledge budgeting" at work.

Sa ngayon kasi, hihingi sila ng malaking pondo, tapos hindi naman pala alam kung saan itatayo,” Recto said.

(Right now, they ask for a big budget, but they don't know where to construct the new classrooms.)

Mukhang ang nangyayari ay ‘zero-based knowledge’ budgeting kasi hindi alam kung saan itatayo ang mga ito. Inuuna ang pera bago ang pangangailangan. It is putting-the-car-before-the-horse kind of budgeting,” he added.

(It seems that what's happening is 'zero-based knowledge' budgeting because they don't know where to build these rooms. They put the request for funds first before identifying the need.)

The senator earlier called on the government to speed up the construction of new classrooms, citing the increasing backlog of new rooms that have yet to be built.

“The challenge now is to prevent the backlog from piling up. There’s this huge backlog for 2014. We have 44,663 rooms that must go up this year, and then 43,000 classrooms next year,” he said.

Last month, Recto said that if the government aims to finish building more than 80,000 classrooms before the end of President Benigno Aquino III's term next year, the government must build an average of 254 classrooms a day.

He also urged Malacañang to name a point person to address the backlog in school infrastructure. – Rappler.com