PASIG CITY, July 22, 2019 – The Department of Education (DepEd) on Thursday presented the development and implementation of its Last Mile Schools Program which aims to address the gaps in resources and facilities of schools that are located in geographically isolated and disadvantaged and conflict-affected areas (GIDCA).
In the July 18 press conference, Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones shared that while the Department is aggressively building schools and classrooms, and providing them with furniture and equipment, there are still schools that have not met the allocation criteria for various education inputs.
“Priority namin talaga ang Last Mile Program para marating natin, maabot natin ang lahat ng kabataan dito sa Pilipinas,” Briones said.
Last mile schools are those with less than four classrooms, usually makeshift and nonstandard ones; no electricity; no funds for repairs or new construction projects in the last four years; and a travel distance of more than one hour away from the center, accessible only through difficult terrain. Likewise, these are schools with multi-grade classes, with less than five teachers, and a population of less than 100 learners, more than 75% of whom are indigenous peoples (IP).
As of date, around 7,144 schools across the country have been identified as needing immediate support.
“It’s a two-year program. We will be concentrating on 2020 and 2021 and the two-year program will focus first on facilities, then on infrastructure. Itatayo muna namin iyong eskwelahan, after one year, papasok iyong content—furniture, textbooks, computers, electricity, and so on,” Undersecretary for Administration Alain del Pascua explained.
DepEd enjoined all offices across governance levels—through DepEd Memorandum No. 59, s. 2019—to jointly plan and implement programs, projects, and activities to expedite the delivery of the needed services in the last mile schools. These include, but are not limited to, capacity building; provision of additional teachers and personnel, laboratories, equipment, furniture, teaching and learning materials, and internet connectivity; funding their feeding, health, and greening programs; installation of solar panels in unenergized schools; distribution of DepEd Computerization Program (DCP) packages; and processing of land ownership papers/documents.
“Gusto nating humabol ‘yung naiiwan. No one left behind. Hintayin lang ninyo kami sa DepEd. Kung nasa bundok ka, kung nasa isla ka, kung nasa urban jungle ka, sabihin lang ninyo sa min at kami ay darating. Kami ay aaksyon,” the Education chief added.
Briones was also joined by Undersecretaries Nepomuceno Malaluan and Annalyn Sevilla, Assistant Secretary G.H. Ambat, OIC Assistant Secretary Alberto Escobarte, and DepEd Region XI OIC Director Evelyn Fetalvero.
In the same press conference, the Education officials also addressed questions and issues relevant to the temporary suspension of Salugpongan schools’ permit to operate. The Secretary also underscored the crucial role of the media in disseminating truthful, accurately contextualized information to the public.