Occidental Mindoro to build over 100 classrooms

Occidental Mindoro may be the first province in the country to get rid of the perennial problem of classroom shortage in public schools by 2013.

This after Education Secretary Armin Luistro and Occidental Mindoro Governor Josephine Ramirez Sato signed a memorandum of agreement last week to build 129 new classrooms for school year 2011-2012 through the joint education program of the Department of Education and the local government units (LGUs).

The project will cost P99.2 million.

Currently, classroom shortage in the Occidental Mindoro stands at 256.

“Taking into account the 129 classrooms we will construct this year, our backlog will significantly be reduced by 50 percent,” said Sato.

Luistro said that given the determination of the provincial government to address the classroom shortage, “it is highly possible that the LGU can fully close the gap by 2013 or even earlier. “

Under the counter-parting program, DepEd will provide an equal counterpart fund of each LGU under the DepEd-LGU Counterparting for Classroom Construction Program, which prioritizes areas with acute classroom shortage.

Occidental Mindoro’s share of P50 million will finance the construction of 50 new classrooms on top of DepEd’s program for 2011.

It will also finance the provision of additional features to the 79 new classrooms on the DepEd’s list. The additional features include a toilet each for each of the 129 classrooms as well as the expansion of the corridors for these school buildings.

The initial 50 percent of the building cost will come from participating LGUs. The release of DepEd’s 50 percent counter-part funds will be made upon receipt of certification from LGU’s that their 50 percent share has been fully spent and that the construction is 50 percent complete as certified by DepEd’s schools division superintendent.

Classroom shortage is a recurring problem in the Philippine public school system. Chief among the reasons is the unchecked population growth such that the department has to accommodate at least a million new entrants to public schools each year.

The introduction of the universal kindergarten in all public schools as part of the proposed K to 12 education reform program also resulted to a sharp demand for classrooms across the country.

Luistro emphasized that DepEd will live up to the trust and strong support of the LGUs. “We will be good stewards of the investments made by the LGUs and we will keep them informed of the progress of schools in their localities through report cards,” he added.

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