DepEd assures no classroom shortage

Education Secretary Armin Luistro expressed confidence yesterday that there will be no shortage of classrooms in public schools nationwide before the year ends as the Department of Education (DepEd) continues to fill in the backlog in classroom shortages through various partnerships.

During the signing of the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) among DepEd, Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), and Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR), Luistro said an additional 1,800 to 2,000 classrooms will be built in public schools nationwide to totally address classroom shortages.

PAGCOR has donated P2 billion to DepEd intended to build the classrooms in response to the call of DepEd to fill in the shortages of classrooms in public schools in the country. Luistro said the DPWH shall be in-charge of the construction of the classrooms because of their expertise in the construction of highways, buildings, and other infrastructure facilities. "The selection of the school beneficiaries willl be determined by PAGCOR in compliance to the list of shortages to be provided by DepEd," he said.

The funds, Luistro said, will be turned over to DPWH for and in behalf of DepEd for the construction of classrooms. "For this, the target date of completion is December 2014," he added.

Luistro explained that the 66, 800-classroom shortage as of 2010 will be fully addressed by December 2013. In 2012, DepEd reported a total shortage of 50, 921 classrooms in government-subsidized schools. But under the DepEd's PPP for School Infrastructure Project (PSIP), which is now on its second batch, classrooms are being built continuously to address the backlog as well as to fill in the running shortages annually brought by increase in enrollment which is about 10,000 to 15,000 classrooms every school opening.

Also present during the MOA signing of the second phase of the "Matuwid na Daan sa Silid-Aralan" project were DPWH Secretary Rogelio Singson, PAGCOR Chairman and CEO Cristino Naguiat, Jr., PACGOR President, and COO Jorge Sarmiento, PAGCOR Assistant Vice President Henry Reyes, Community Relations and Services Department, and PAGCOR Assistant Vice President Maricar L. Bautista, Corporate Communications Department.

According to Naguiat, the additional funding brings PAGCOR's total allocation for its school building project to P3 billion. In 2011, the agency initially provided a P1 million funding for the construction of almost 900 classrooms and 100 Gawad Kalinga (GK) Learning Centers.