MANILA - The government has approved the release of an additional P7.3 billion to the Department of Public Works and Highways for the construction of more classrooms for public elementary and high schools nationwide.
Budget Secretary Florencio Abad over the weekend said the money would be part of the fund of the Department of Education for basic educational facilities to build 7,136 classrooms in 4,007 sites.
Of the 7,136 classrooms, 5,916 will be built in elementary schools while 1,220 will be situated in secondary schools.
“The administration is as committed as ever to ensuring that our public schools can accommodate the increasing number of enrollees per year. This latest fund release fulfills exactly that commitment,” Abad said in a statement.
“When we equip our schools adequately for the school year ahead, we give our schoolchildren a better chance at doing well in their studies. Teachers are also able to deliver their lessons in an environment that actually facilitates learning,” he added.
The largest allocation was given to Bicol with P1.1 billion for the construction of 1,111 classrooms.
Next was Region 12 with P960.8 million for the provinces of South Cotabato, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, and General Santos City.
Region 7 or western Visayas was third with P753.9 million for the construction of 710 classrooms.
“Year after year, the administration devotes the largest portion of the budget to education. Now that we’re getting the next year’s budget ready, we’re prepared to make even larger investments towards improving the education system,” Abad said.
President Aquino has also ordered the release of P1 billion for the repair and reconstruction of 35 state universities and colleges (SUCs) that were damaged by Super Typhoon Yolanda last year.
Pasig City Rep. Roman Romulo, who chairs the House committee on higher and technical education, said yesterday that he received a copy of a letter Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. informing Secretary Abad of the President’s directive.
“A total of P987.3 million is being made available to the 35 SUCs whose reproducible assets such as buildings were impaired or destroyed by calamities in 2013,” Romulo said.
He said the affected SUCs are spread across eight regions -- Cagayan Valley, Mindoro-Marinduque-Romblon-Palawan, the entire Visayas comprising three regions, Zamboanga peninsula, Northern Mindanao, and Caraga.
He identified the SUCs severely damaged by Yolanda as Eastern Samar State University (Borongan City); Eastern Visayas State University (Tacloban City); Visayas State University (Baybay City); Northern Iloilo Polytechnic State College (Estancia, Iloilo); Capiz State University (Roxas City);
University of the Philippines School of Health Sciences (Palo, Leyte); Romblon State University (Odiongan, Romblon); Palompon Institute of Technology (Palompon, Leyte); University of Antique (Sibalom, Antique); Aklan State University (Banga, Aklan); Iloilo State University of Science and Technology (Barotac Nuevo, Iloilo); Western Visayas College of Science and Technology (Iloilo City);
Cebu Normal University (Medellin, Cebu); Cebu Technological University (Bantayan and Camotes Islands, Cebu); Leyte Normal University (Tacloban City); Naval State University (Naval, Biliran); University of the Philippines-Visayas Tacloban College (Tacloban City); Samar State University (Catbalogan City); and Southern Leyte State University (Sogod, Southern Leyte).
“These 19 SUCs support the schooling of more than 157,000 students, so we really have to help them fully rebuild their facilities and services as soon as possible,” Romulo said.
Yolanda slammed into Eastern Visayas and parts of Western and Central Visayas on Nov. 8, 2013, killing over 6,000 people.
Besides Yolanda, other disasters that struck the country in 2013 included the 7.2-magnitude earthquake that rocked Bohol and nearby provinces on Oct. 15, killing 209 people; and the Sept. 9 to 28 Zamboanga City siege that left 140 people dead. – With Jess Diaz