MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Education is proud to announce that shortage of classrooms across the schools nationwide has been adequately addressed even as classes may still be held outside in the coming school year.
DepEd said the perennial problem of classroom shortage over the years has been solved by the agency, and in fact, even exceeded the government expectations because of the joint efforts between public and private sectors.
President Benigno Aquino III, in his speech during the turnover ceremony of Carmona National High School classrooms in Cavite, heaped praises for Education Secretary Armin Luistro for the ‘remarkable achievement’ in solving the backlog of classrooms from the previous administration.
Luistro, who was with the President during the ceremony, said DepEd has so far built 66,813 classrooms, a little over than the government target of 66,8000, with each unit costing around P800,000.
From the total number of classrooms built, Luistro said 35,000 were constructed by the national government, 13,189 by local government, 14,186 by local donors, 1,215 by foreign donors, and 2,242 under the Public Private Partnership for School Infrastructure Project I.
“This is a collaborative work of private organizations and public institutions, showing commitment to quality education for Filipino learners,” he added
In a separate report, however, DepEd clarified that addressing the classroom shortage does not necessarily mean some school will no longer hold classes under the trees, as this does not include those that have no more available area to build on.
“When you say there’s shortage, you need to build classrooms but how can you build, even if you have funds, if you don’t have the space?” DepEd Assistant Secretary Tonisito Umali said in an interview.
Umali’s clarification follows his earlier statement categorically saying classroom shortage has already been addressed by the Education department, and adding their target is to achieve the ideal ratio of classroom to students of 1:45.
Malacanang Palace also echoed Umali’s definition of a classroom shortage, and further explained that the government, by saying so, actually meant it solved only the ‘classroom backlog’ from the Arroyo administration.
In an interview with radio dzRB, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma bared that the present administration inherited from Arroyo around 66,800 classroom backlogs since 2010.
Coloma added the government is still saddled with the task of building classrooms in areas ravaged last year by a series of calamities.
In Visayas and Palawan alone, he said 4,599 classrooms were wiped out by typhoon Yolanda and another 13,021 were damaged partially.
Thousands more remain to be rebuilt in Bohol due to the 7.2 magnitude earthquake the province suffered last October while several others were destroyed in Zamboanga due to the armed siege.