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MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Education (DepEd) said the country was short of 159,000 classrooms this coming school year which is set to start next week.
This 2023-2024 school year classroom deficit is far more severe than last year’s shortage of 91,000 classrooms.
Assistant Secretary Francis Bringas reported this disturbing data to the Senate Committee on Basic Education on Wednesday, August 23. The committee met to discuss preparedness for the upcoming school year and proposals to revert to the June to March school calendar.
“Mr chair, with regards to that, we have established already under our schools infrastructure and facilities trend, that the total gap, covering all the damages brought about by the typhoons and lack of classrooms – 159,000 classrooms [are needed] all over the country. That is the total gap that we have in terms of facilities, classrooms particularly,” Bringas said.
Of that number, a total of 440 classrooms were destroyed in storms or other disasters, Bringas told the Senate committee.
The increase of the classroom deficit is opposite what DepEd predicted a year ago.
In August 2022, Undersecretary Epimaco Densing III told the House committee on basic education that they predicted the classroom shortage would be reduced to 40,000.
Rappler asked for an explanation as to why the classroom deficit took a turn for the worse, despite the DepEd being awash with cash in its first year with Vice President Sara Duterte as education secretary.
There is still no reply from DepEd as of this posting.
DepEd’s standard classroom to student ratios are one classroom for every 35 students for primary school ,and one classroom for every 40 students for junior and senior high school.
Based on this parameters, at least 50% of all 7,520 existing senior high school classrooms are congested, while 41% of all 10,188 junior high school classrooms are overcrowded. Meanwhile, 32% of all primary school (K-6) are crammed.
Schools are preparing to open the school year on Tuesday, August 29. – Rappler.com