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Aquino: No more classroom backlog

Natashya Gutierrez

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As much as possible, the President says, the demands of the k-12 program should not be passed on for the next administration meet

NO BACKLOG. President Aquino says his administration has erased the 66,800 backlog of classrooms it inherited from the previous administration. Malacañang Photo Bureau

MANILA, Philippines – It’s a good day for Philippine education.

On the first work day of February, President Benigno Aquino III did a ceremonial turnover of 66,813 classrooms, officially removing the backlog in classrooms left by the previous administration.

There was a need for 66,800 classrooms when the Aquino government took over.

Aquino said it was a challenge meeting the requirements. Each classroom was estimated to cost P800,000 then, allowing for the construction of only 8,000 classrooms every year of his 6-year term, or only 48,000 in all.

In addition, the growing Philippine population made the situation more problematic. (READ: What goes into the building of classrooms?)

“How would we do it? 66,000 is not equivalent to 48,000,” Aquino said. “We looked for different solutions. We encouraged donations, we sought possible donors, we also tapped PPP (public-private partnership program).”

In the end, he said, the Department of Education (DepEd) under Education Secretary Armin Luistro did not only meet the target, it even exceeded the number of needed classrooms.

The completion of the classrooms is the latest education-related backlog tackled by the government.

Aquino said his administration closed the backlog of 62 million textbooks as early as 2012 by purchasing the books for a better price – and resulted in 40% savings.

The President also said he was met with a 2.5-million backlog in chairs, which his administration has since addressed by making chairs out of timbers seized from illegal loggers. (READ: 5 leaps in 2013 that make education promising)

From 2010 to 2013, some 103,000 additional teacher posts were added, while 43,000 volunteers for kindergarten classes. This which filled the demand for 146,000 teachers in 2010. Aquino said 4,000 additional teacher posts are still looking to be filled.

Continuous challenges

Aquino said the achievement of closing the backlog on his third year in office is evidence of how the government works.

“For now, it is clear to most, especially the Cabinet, the style of our government. Our process: Determine the true problem in order to find the right solution; find consensus on concrete steps to solve the problem; establish a target that funds and skills can focus on and reach that target,” he said.

“Our Cabinet knows this…. I take targets seriously. Once deadlines arrive, I will demand from you what you promised. You must have results to show our bosses,” he said.

The President praised DepEd for consecutively erasing the various backlogs it inherited in their sector, bringing the country closer to “the dream to have a public education system that will truly grant opportunities for our children.”

Aquino acknowledged, however, the continuous challenge to rebuild suitable learning environments, especially in areas hit by calamities.

“As long as we are able, we vow to meet the needs of the education sector and ensure that the new demands of the K-12 program in the following years will be prepared for and finished – and not passed on for the next administration to solve,” he said.

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Natashya Gutierrez

Natashya is President of Rappler. Among the pioneers of Rappler, she is an award-winning multimedia journalist and was also former editor-in-chief of Vice News Asia-Pacific. Gutierrez was named one of the World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leaders for 2023.