By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos
MANILA – The Marcos administration has allocated PHP15.1 billion for the construction of 4,912 classrooms in 1,194 sites nationwide, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said Wednesday.
In a statement, the DBM announced that Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman approved on May 15 the Department of Public Works and Highways’ (DPWH) and the Department of Education’s (DepEd) joint request to release funds amounting to PHP15,151,709,646 to finance initiatives aimed at addressing classroom backlog.
The DBM said the released budget would be used for the construction, replacement, and completion of kindergarten, elementary, and secondary school buildings and technical vocational laboratories.
Funds will also be allotted for the installation or replacement of disability access facilities, the construction of water and sanitation facilities, and site improvement, the budget department added.
“On the other hand, PHP131,427,470 will be used for Engineering and Administrative Overhead (EAO) expenses,” it said.
The DBM noted that the EAO expenses cover the hiring of individuals; conduct of preliminary and detailed engineering activities; pre-construction activities; construction project management; and testing and quality control.
It said the approved budget would also be earmarked for the acquisition, rehabilitation, and repair of related equipment and parts; training, communication, per diem, and transportation expenses; and contingencies related to pre-construction activities.
Pangandaman said the timely release of funds demonstrates the Marcos administration’s commitment to investing in education.
“We need to build and repair classrooms to keep up with increasing enrollment in our public schools,” she said.
“Our schoolchildren need to be in an environment conducive to learning and fun. Kailangan nila ng ligtas, malinis, at maaliwalas na mga silid-aralan para makapag-aral nang mabuti. Sila ang ating best investment (They need safe, clean, and well-ventilated classrooms for them to study well. They are our best investment).”
In February, the DepEd called for a whole-of-society approach to address the perennial problem of classroom shortage.
Vice President and DepEd Secretary Sara Z. Duterte earlier identified classroom shortage as the most urgent education issue.
Promising to address the gaps in school infrastructure, Duterte said they are targeting to build 6,000 classrooms this year.
In his budget message, President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. pledged to prioritize the construction of new classrooms under DepEd’s Basic Education Facilities as face-to-face classes resumed. (PNA)