Senator Win Gatchalian has urged the government to look into other methods of constructing classrooms and school buildings to avoid delays as he called on the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to revisit the computation for classroom requirements.
“Let’s explore other modalities in constructing school buildings as the slow pace can’t keep up with the demand for classrooms and growing number of learners,” Gatchalian, chair of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture said during the Committee on Finance hearing for the Department of Education’s (DepEd) 2020 budget.
“Based on the data given by DepEd, as of December 2018, only 11 classrooms were completed out of the revised 28,180 classroom target for 2018. An additional 2,474 classrooms were still under construction, while 8,749 were still only at the procurement stage,” he stressed.
Gatchalian said the government could tie up with the private sector through Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) to fast-track the construction of classrooms and buildings. Another option would be for schools divisions to construct the buildings themselves, instead of the Department of Public Works and Highways.
“We need to free up the bottlenecks in the construction of classrooms and school buildings to be able to keep up with the demand,” he said.
The lawmaker pointed out that due to the slow progress made in the construction of classrooms, there was a domino effect on DepEd being unable to attain its targets with respect to the number of enrollees in multigrade, Special Education (SPED), Arabic Language Islamic Values Education (ALIVE), Indigenous Peoples Education (IPED), and Alternative Learning System schools.
“The actual number of learners enrolled in multigrade, SPED, ALIVE, IPED, ALS schools in 2018 were all lower than the targets set by DepEd,” he said.
Data from the 2020 National Expenditure Program shows that in 2018 there where 285,548 actual learners enrolled in public multigrade schools compared to the 425,293 target of DepEd. For public and private SPED schools, there were 236,607 enrollees out of the 259,573 target; public ALIVE schools, 163,510 out of 364,007; public IPED schools, 90,100 out of 94,035; and ALS, 818,049 out of 823,013.
Gatchalian then urged the DBM to revisit its computation for classroom targets for 2020 as he said the 8,000-classroom target was too low given the dismal completion rates in the previous years.
“We need to accommodate all our learners. Maybe there is a need for the DBM to revisit its computation for classroom requirements,” he said.