DepEd needs P397B to address 159K classroom backlog

By HANA BORDEY,GMA Integrated News

The Department of Education (DepEd) will need around P397 billion to address the current 159,000 classroom backlog nationwide, an official told a Senate hearing on the preparation for the August 29 school opening on Wednesday.

According to DepEd Assistant Secretary Cesar Bringas, the 159,000 classroom backlogs include the 440 totally damaged classrooms and others that have been destroyed by typhoons or natural calamities.

Bringas said each classroom cost around P2 million. If multiplied by 159,000, he said they would need P397 billion.

In the 2023 national budget, the DepEd official said they were only given P10 billion which can cover the construction of more than 7,100 classrooms.

“Based on the budget that we received for capital outlay for school buildings this [General Appropriation Act] for 2023, it was only enough for more than 7,100 plus classrooms. That is the number of classrooms that will be built by the budget that was given to the department for 2023,” he said.

The budget for school buildings in the proposed 2024 national budget is at around the same amount, he added.

For Senate basic education committee chairman Sherwin Gatchalian, the amount provided for the education department is a “far cry” compared to the amount needed to address the backlog.

As a temporary solution, Bringas told the panel that some schools, particularly in highly congested areas, implement three shifts to cater to all the students.

These schools, he said, are mostly in the highly urbanized areas like Metro Manila, Cebu City, and some schools in Calabarzon.

According to the data presented by Gatchalian, the congestion rate in schools is at around 32% for Kinder to Grade 6, 41% in Junior High School and about 50% in Senior High School.


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III lamented that the students who are enrolled in schools with three shifts are being “shortchanged” as he noted that the education system is planned to have one shift every day.

“Unfortunately… 'yung ating metropolitan areas, ang kabataan ang shortchanged don. Shorter hours… Nag-adjust lang tayo ng two shifts and three shifts. I don't think that we can cram. Ano naman ang abilidad ng bata sa Metro area na you can cram in four hours what you assumed to be normally processed by the same age level learner in six hours? So that’s our problem,” Pimentel said.

Bringas said the DepEd is looking at the disadvantages of having three shifts and they are prioritizing the constructions of schools in highly urbanized areas so the instructional time for students will not be compromised.

Gatchalian also raised the issue of shortage of teachers as data showed that 9% of Kinder to Grade 6 experience insufficient teachers in 3,5000 schools, 24% for Junior High School, and 34% in Senior High School.

The ideal teacher per student ratio is 1:25 for kindergarten, 1:32 for primary school, 1:42 for Junior High School, and 1:45 for Senior High School.

"Obviously, overworked teachers or teachers who are teaching beyond six hours, it's beyond the physical capacity of the teachers to teach and of course, other things will be sacrificed. For example, preparation of the lesson plan," Gatchalian said.

"So, I'm bringing this again to the attention of DepEd because we are not only experiencing congested classroom, but it is also experienced in some areas, insufficient teachers," he added.

Bringas said the DepEd’s planning service is already analyzing their teacher deployment system and they are looking at redeploying teachers who are assigned in schools with excess teachers to schools that lack teaching personnel.

"With the 10,000 allocation that we are given every year, it’s not enough to cover all our teacher shortages and the demands in the schools where we are over the ideal ratio," he said.

Bringas also said they are having difficulties in deploying teachers to schools that are "difficult to reach." —KBK, GMA Integrated News