Use facilities of closed private schools to address classroom shortage: senator

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 19 2022 08:22 PM

Uniformed personnel participate during the Brigada Eskwela Kickoff inside the Comembo Elementary School in Makati on August 10, 2022. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News/file
Uniformed personnel participate during the Brigada Eskwela Kickoff inside the Comembo Elementary School in Makati on August 10, 2022. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News/file

MANILA — Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian on Friday proposed the use of closed private school facilities in order to address the classroom shortage reported by the Department of Education (DepEd).

During a Senate hearing, DepEd director for Planning Service Roger Masapol reported that from 2019 to 2021, a total of 1,179 private schools have stopped operations.
 
The number represents a combination of 398 schools that notified the DepEd that they are closing permanently, others that are temporarily halting their operation, and those that have zero enrollments.
 
Around 200 private schools meantime were able to reopen, Masapol said.
 
“Based on our conversation with some private schools na nagsara… talagang nag-dwindle talaga yung kanilang enrollment. Hindi na talaga nakayang magpatuloy… Yung iba they are really financially challenged during that period. Kaya nga po nanghihingi na ang ibang private schools ng financial assistance... Karamihan ng nagsara elementary and kindergarten,” Masapol explained.

Gatchalian in response suggested to DepEd to consider tapping the already closed schools and use them as their temporary classrooms, given the huge classroom backlog issue the department faces.

“Look the voucher program to use the schools… if there are 1,179 private schools that closed, those facilities can be used by our senior high school or even junior high school. Because right now the backlog for our classrooms is about P80 billion,” Gatchalian said.
 
Prior to this, Densing in his opening statement at the hearing likened the agency’s situation over its classroom backlog issue to a “quicksand” problem, with schools getting damaged by disasters like typhoons or earthquake yearly.
 
The DepEd only receives P2 billion annually to construct school buildings, far from their needed P5 billion fund a year.

—Reports from Sherrie Ann Torres, ABS-CBN News