Minority Leader lauds P-Noy for keeping SONA promise on classroom, teacher lack

December 12, 2012 11:16 pm 

By Cielito M. Reganit

MANILA, Dec. 12 — The Minority Leader of the House of Representatives on Wednesday commended President Benigno S. Aquino III for following through on his State of the Nation Address (SONA) promise to eliminate resource gaps in the public education system.

Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez said he praises the Aquino administration for undertaking concrete steps towards eliminating the perennial shortage in teachers, classrooms, chairs and textbooks that have continuously plagued public schools.

“I have to salute President Noy. To have addressed the shortage in classrooms and teachers with just one stroke, that's something that past presidents did not manage to fulfill. He is fulfilling it right now. I do not know if it can be completed on time but the government is already in the process of constructing classrooms and starting to hire thousands of teachers,” the Minority Leader told reporters during a press briefing at the House of Representatives in Quezon City.

Addressing the huge resource gap in the public education system was one of the priority programs highlighted by President Aquino during his third SONA last July 23, 2012 before a joint session of Congress.

In his SONA, the President promised to address the shortfalls in classrooms, chairs, textbooks and teachers by the end of 2013.

To support these reforms, the 2013 budget for DepEd was raised by 22.6 percent to P292.7 billion, from P238.8 billion this year.

Of this amount, P26.3 billion is earmarked for the construction and rehabilitation of 30,789 classrooms to finally close the classroom gap. To complement the new classrooms, more than a million seats will be procured and 90,461 water and sanitation facilities will be constructed.

Meanwhile, P13.4 billion is allocated for the creation of 61,510 teaching positions to include the regularization of 7,967 kindergarten volunteer teachers.

Likewise, a P1.5-billion budget is also allocated for the procurement of more than 31.1 million textbooks and teachers’ manuals to maintain the 1:1 student to textbook ratio in 2013.

Thus far, the Aquino administration had successfully bid out the construction of 9,301 classrooms through a public-private partnership (PPP) program.

The three build-lease transfer contracts – worth P16.3 billion – for the design, construction, and maintenance of the said classrooms in Regions I, III, and IV-A for 10 years was sealed on August 16 this year, barely a month after President Aquino's SONA.

The cost will include the building as well as the furniture and toilets as well as fixtures such as electric fans and blackboards.

Construction is slated to start next month – with 69 percent of the classrooms to be built as two-storey classrooms while 31 percent are single-storey units – with a target completion of 16 months.

Meanwhile, the DepED is poised to bid out Phase 2 of its PPP for school infrastructure project worth P8.8 billion to build 11,000 classrooms in Visayas and Mindanao, also by next year.

According to the DepEd, instead of a build-lease transfer arrangement, Phase 2 was redesigned to fit the turnkey arrangement with the private sector – meaning the bidder who bags the project will be paid only after the classrooms have been built. (PNA)

FPV/CMR

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