Instead of “playing catch up with backlogs” in school buildings, government should “build forward”, by constructing in advance classrooms for future enrollees, Sen. Sonny Angara said today.
“I think we should now implement a zero-backlog program. Let’s choose a year of when it will be achieved. And once that’s done, let’s stock up on new classrooms that will be ready in time for new enrollees to come in,” he said.
Angara explained that what he is proposing “is not the public sector equivalent of condo hoarding because the classrooms that will be built will not remain unused for long but will be immediately put to use.”
But for the above to be realized, “government must extend its ‘Build, Build, Build’ program to the education sector,” Angara said.
“Forecasted naman ang enrolees sa mga DepED schools and state universities and colleges (SUC). For DepEd, every increase of 400,000 enrollees should ideally birth 10,000 new classrooms. With that as basis, we can construct the anticipated needs. For once, let’s be ahead of the demand curve,” he said.
Angara made the proposal as budget documents showed that the Malacanang-recommended P20 billion for the construction of new public classrooms next year is good for 8,000 rooms – way below DepEd’s request of P172.5 billion for 64,795 rooms.
On top of the backlog is the need to build at least 10,000 new classrooms yearly to house the annual increase in public school enrollees.
For SUCs, funds do not seem to address the enrolment surge brought about by free public college, with the proposed total capital outlay of all SUCS for 2020 at P11 billion, an amount which will include the purchase of equipment, such as computers.
“Importante ang ‘Build, Build, Build’ sa edukasyon kasi sino ang magpapatakbo, sino ang mamahala ng mga ipinupundar natin ngayon sa imprastraktura at ekonomiya kundi ang mga graduates ng ating mga paaralan?” Angara said.
“Building up our human capital should go hand in hand with our infrastructure and other physical capital development because the latter, like in ICT and trains, would not run on their own,” Angara said.
Angara, however, emphasized that the key to the success of a ‘Build, Build, Build’ and a zero-classroom backlog drive in schools is for government to have the technical expertise to overcome planning, procurement and building challenges.
“Next year, yung 8,000 classrooms, multi-storey na lahat yan. First time in history na stacked up construction. Ang tanong: Handa na ba ang DepEd at DPWH? If we go national with this design, may ready na school sites na ba? May lote ba na pagtatayuan?” Angara said. (30)