DepEd: ₱86.5B needed to build classrooms in 2023

enablePagination: false
maxItemsPerPage: 10
maxPaginationLinks: 10

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 19) - The Department of Education (DepEd) needs ₱86.5 billion for the construction of more classrooms next year, and it does not even fully address the shortage, an official said Friday.

"The ₱86.5 is actually not the overall shortage, this is just what we think should be implemented in 2023," DepEd Undersecretary for Finance Annalyn Sevilla told the Senate basic education committee.

Sevilla disclosed that to date, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has approved only ₱5.9 billion--or 6% of DepEd's proposal--to be included in the National Expenditure Plan for next year. This is the plan that will be submitted to Congress for enactment.

"Despite the instruction of the Department of Budget and Management to only include fifth- and sixth-class municipalities, what we submitted is the overall requirement that we can implement next year," Sevilla explained.

DepEd Undersecretary Epimaco Densing III said all in all, the country is short of around 91,000 classrooms. He said Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte has written to the DBM, explaining that the school building program should not be among projects devolved to local government units.

Education officials also noted a backlog of ₱40 billion for the repairs of classrooms destroyed calamities--₱16 billion of which they said is most urgent, to address damage caused by the Abra earthquake and storms Odette and Agaton. But the DBM only approved ₱1.5 billion for classroom repairs, Sevilla said.

"That is the problem we will face in 2023," she said. "With this given budget, we have to just prioritize the fifth and sixth class municipalities for repair and new construction."

Officials also lamented the dire lack of quick response funds--only ₱2 billion every year--all being used up to repair damage incurred from previous years.

"Kung may darating na bagong calamity or disaster wala po talaga kaming maibibigay na quick response fund (If a new calamity or disaster strikes, we cannot really give any more quick response fund)," Sevilla warned, adding that it defeats the purpose of the QRF.

Quoting Duterte, "we are in a quicksand," Densing said, adding that the lack of funds only creates additional classroom shortage year in and year out.