THE government should facilitate the construction and repair of school buildings and classrooms, especially for kindergarten students nationwide, said a spokesman of Vice President Jejomar Binay.
Joey Salgado, head for media affairs of the Office of the Vice President (OVP), said the Vice President “believes that education is the greatest social equalizer and an effective vehicle for poverty reduction. He finds it unfortunate that the administration has failed to prioritize the construction and repair of school buildings and classrooms for kindergarten students in areas with acute classroom shortage.”
He said that there are 15,000 kindergarten enrollees in Northern Mindanao yearly yet they do not have sufficient classrooms.
“The Vice President believes that with the youth educated and prepared for the outside world, they can join the work force with the qualifications needed to excel in their chosen field. They will earn a good income, which, in turn, will translate to a better life for each and every Filipino,” he added.
He noted that while the government has enacted Republic Act No. 10157 or “The Kindergarten Education Act,” the support needed to ensure the implementation of the law has not been given priority.
“In fact, they did not include construction projects for kindergarten school buildings in the 2013 list when there is a budget,” Salgado said.
The OVP official noted that P14.1 billion was allocated in the 2013 budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways for construction, replacement, and completion of kindergarten, elementary, and secondary buildings in areas with acute classroom shortage.
However, the Department of Education (DepEd) divisions office submitted to Dep-Ed Central Office only a list of elementary and secondary schools with classroom shortage for elementary and high school students.
Based on a 2013 report of the Commission on Audit (COA), the DepEd failed to prioritize construction projects of kindergarten school buildings in Region 10 or Northern Mindanao.
COA reported that DepEd’s partnership with Aklat, Gabay, Guro, Aruga tungo sa Pag-angat at Pag-asa (AGGAP) Foundation resulted in eight kindergarten classrooms with furniture built and in four public schools donated in Misamis Oriental namely Balingasag Central School, Medina Elementary School, Salay Central School, and Maanas Central School.
But these were not enough and the classroom shortage adversely affected 15,876 and 16,362 kindergarten enrollees in School Year 2012-2013 and School Year 2013-2014, respectively.
Binay’s camp also noted COA findings that said various school heads or administrators revealed that they had to conduct classes for kindergarten students in “condemnable classrooms and barangay halls.”
Salgado said given the poor condition of the rooms used for young children, the quality of education the students get is compromised and the children’s lives are put in danger when classes are held in “condemnable rooms.”