MANILA - What has the Aquino administration accomplished in the education sector? According to Education Secretary Armin Luistro, there are now more classrooms built, textbooks distributed and teachers hired in the past six years.
Speaking to radio dzMM, Luistro listed the achievements of the Department of Education under his watch including solving the 66,000-classroom backlog with the construction of 118,000 new rooms.
Luistro said bidding and construction of 66,000 more classrooms in public schools are ongoing. Once these are completed, the number of schoolrooms constructed by the Aquino administration will total 185,000.
Confident that government did not just meet but surpassed its target on classroom gap, he said:"I can say categorically na kapag nag-ikot po kayo, mahihirapan na kayong maghanap nung walang classroom."
Luistro, however, admitted the Department of Education is still having difficulty in finding good locations for building campuses.
"Iyung challenge po natin ngayon, lalo na sa NCR at malalaking siyudad, naghahanap tayo na ibang lugar na kasi hindi na po tayo pwedeng magtayo sa lumang campuses."
Luistro also claimed there is now an equal book-student ratio. The only challenge in maintaining this ratio is overseeing potential problems in the delivery of books.
"Minsan naghihintay ng transportation sa malalayong lugar," he explained.
But he guaranteed that public school officials themselves can prevent a shortage on books since learning modules may be accessed at the DepEd online portal and could be printed.
Luistro, however, admitted that public school teachers do not have enough teaching materials to provide an in-depth discussion of Philippine history, especially the Martial Law period. He also urged the public to help the government find appropriate study references.
"Tatapatin ko po kayo, ang medyo kulang po sa atin iyung magagamit na resources ng teacher at kabataan tungkol sa history," he said. "Ang sinasabi ko nga po sa mga may agam-agam tungkol sa pagtuturo ng Martial Law, tulungan niyo rin po ang DepEd."
The DepEd has also hired 258,000 teachers since 2010, in what Luistro calls the "biggest mass hiring of teachers."
"Noong nag-umpisa po iyung administrasyong Aquino noong 2010, mga 500,000 iyung ating teacher. Ngayon, pumapalo na tayo ng more than 700,000," he added.
Luistro said corruption in the education sector was also curbed during Aquino's term.
He said one of his first steps as DepEd Secretary was to hold talks with the agency's suppliers and private partners to warn them against giving bribes to education officials.
"Sabi ko po sa supplier, bawat isang corrupt government official may 10 sa inyo nagsusuhol, namimigay ng magandang regalo. Sabi ko magtulungan tayo, hindi pwedeng may corrpt government official na walang ka-partner sa industry," he said.
Apart from these measures, the Aquino administration also pushed for the K-12 program, which extended the country's 10-year basic education cycle to 12 years.
Government has maintained that the K-12 program satisfies international education standards, and that K-12 graduates are already eligible to join the work force, courtesy of the technical-vocational courses offered as electives in Grades 11 and 12.
The President and his Cabinet will bow out of office on June 30.