Senator Win Gatchalian is proposing that local government units (LGUs) be given the task of constructing classrooms to efficiently address the shortage nationwide.
“DepEd will get 50% of the funds, and the LGU gets the other 50%, but it’s the LGU that builds. I think that is quite effective. In effect, you now have thousands of LGUs simultaneously building,” said Gatchalian.
During a recent budget hearing of the Senate Committee on Finance on the proposed 2023 National Expenditure Program (NEP), the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education pointed out that the construction of classrooms is a perennial problem.
Citing figures from the Department of Education (DepEd), Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Amenah F. Pangandaman said that as of December 31, 2021, only 191 classrooms were constructed and there are around 15,000 on-going constructions of classrooms, some of which date all the way from 2014.
The budget chief added that for 2021, the Department of Public and Works and Highways’ (DPWH) obligation rate for the construction of school buildings was 92% but the disbursement rate was only at 45%. The DPWH is tasked with the construction of school buildings.
“The concept there is to decentralize the construction because the construction part is the bottleneck,” Gatchalian added.
Earlier, the lawmaker also said that he plans to file a bill that will allow the construction of classrooms in school buildings that are more than four storeys high, noting that there is an existing regulation that prohibits the construction of classrooms beyond the fourth floor. Gatchalian said that this will allow the faster construction of classrooms, especially in urban areas where schools have higher student populations.
Under the 2023 NEP, more than P5.9 billion is allocated for the construction, replacement, and completion of kindergarten, elementary, and secondary school buildings and technical vocational laboratories. The amount will also cover the construction of water and sanitation facilities.