Palace says classroom shortage a continuing challenge

by Aurea Calica, The Philippine Star

Posted at Jun 01 2014 10:46 AM | Updated as of Jun 01 2014 06:46 PM

MANILA - As hundreds of students return to school tomorrow, the government said that addressing classroom backlog and other needs of the education sector is a continuing challenge.

Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. explained yesterday that the government is not misleading the public into believe that there are no more problems with school facilities and supplies when citing the Department of Education’s success in solving the 66,000-classroom backlog after Education Secretary Armin Luistro and the Aquino administration assumed office in 2010.

Coloma said under Luistro, 66,213 classrooms were built, more than the target. But this accomplishment must be taken vis-a-vis the disasters that hit the country like the Zamboanga City siege, the strong earthquake in Bohol and Cebu and Super Typhoon Yolanda.

Many classrooms were destroyed while some suffered from natural wear and tear. Add to these factors the new educational requirements under the K-12 program, which made kindergarten compulsory under the law, he explained.

“This means the growth of the education sector is dynamic,” Coloma said, noting the growing number of students who need to be accommodated each year.

He said the number of students is not stagnant because the country’s population is very young and naturally, the requirements for classrooms, textbooks, school tables and chairs and other needs of the education sector would increase.

This is the reason why the government has expanded its conditional cash transfer program to include not only the elementary education but also the secondary education of young beneficiaries, he added.

Coloma explained that the government’s response might not be perfect but everything in the education sector is being looked into, including the repairs needed in higher education institutions, and the 2015 budget would take into consideration all the needs of public schools.