QUEZON CITY, August 31, 2018 – The Department of Education (DepEd) assured that public schools nationwide will continue to have additional classrooms amid the decrease in the allocation for new classrooms in the proposed budget for 2019.
As part of its commitment to catch up in providing more basic education inputs, DepEd is set to deliver 81,630 classrooms, which are currently in various stages of implementation, until the end of December 2019.
DepEd made the affirmation during the seven-hour deliberation of its proposed 2019 budget by the House of Representatives’ Committee on Appropriations on August 28.
In its original 2019 budget proposal, DepEd allocated 47,000 new classrooms as part of its Basic Education Facilities program. However, the Department of Budget and Management’s (DBM) National Expenditure Program (NEP) reflected a significant reduction with 4,110 new classrooms instead.
“It’s to give breather to DepEd and DPWH [Department of Public Works and Highways] on the number of constructions that we are now doing. By the end of December 2019, we will have about 80,000 new classrooms built, which will come from the allocations and programs and projects that have started since 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018. That’s the rationale provided to us,” Administrative Service Undersecretary Alain Pascua said.
Concerns arose when DepEd stated that the reduction in the proposed allocation for new classrooms may result in an average of 10 and a minimum of two classrooms to be allocated per district.
Of the 81,630 classrooms currently being delivered until the end of 2019, 60,149 classrooms are ongoing construction; 12,059 are under procurement; 7,052 are for procurement; and 2,369 have been constructed from July to August 2018. On top of these, 22,133 classrooms were constructed from July 2016 to June 2018.
Breathing space to perform better
Education Secretary Leonor Magtolis noted that the situation “gives breathing space to the Department” in responding to needs and expectations of the public. This “breathing space,” according to Finance-Budget and Performance Monitoring Undersecretary Annalyn Sevilla, will enable programs like the Basic Education Facilities to be “implementation-ready” come 2019.
“Doon sa proposed 47,000 classrooms for 2019, it equates to the required number of classrooms for the estimated enrollees, but it also has to be implementation-ready na. And we have a fund that we can tap for preparatory activities like ‘pre-detailed engineering,’ which means cleaning up of necessary preliminary works such as design, costing, and validation. Ibig sabihin ‘pag pumasok na ang project sa school building program tapos na ito sa lahat ng paglilinis at preparation. Once it goes to the NEP, you immediately go to procurement. So this breathing time is for us to do those things, so when we request for next year, kaya nga po ang tawag ay cash-based, para implementation-ready na,” Undersecretary Sevilla pointed out.