Senator seeks probe into DepEd’s electrification of public schools
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Sherwin Gatchalian is seeking a Senate inquiry on the status of the government’s electrification of public primary and secondary schools in the Philippines.
“Nararapat lamang na busisiing mabuti at pagtuunan ng pansin ng Kongreso ang electrification program ng DepEd (Department of Education) upang siguruhin na wala nang estudyanteng magtitiyagang mag-aral sa madilim na silid-aralan sa hinaharap,” Gatchalian said in a statement on Friday.
(Congress should scrutinize and give attention to DepEd’s electrification program to ensure that no more Filipino student will have to endure dark classrooms in the future).
According to Gatchalian, Congress has allocated over P2.49 billion in DepEd’s budget for the electrification of the 1,162 schools and modernization of electrical systems of on-grid schools.
But he said that there are still 502 schools that have no electricity.
Because of this, Gatchalian said it is imperative for Congress to know the status of DepEd’s school electrification program “to determine the necessary legislative intervention for a total electrification of all public primary and secondary schools nationwide.”
Currently, he said the DepEd has an electrification program using appropriations from its Basic Education Facilities Funds.
Part of the program includes upgrading electrical connections of existing on-grid schools to comply with the electrical requirements, he noted.
“We allocated almost P2.5 billion for the electrification of public schools across the country for this year and we owe it to the public to inform them on the status of DepEd’s electrification program, as well as to account every centavo that will be spent on this undertaking,” he said.
In filing Senate Resolution No. 330, Gatchalian cited 2019 data from DepEd which showed that there were 1,664 public primary and secondary schools nationwide that remain “unenergized,” affecting a total of 380,529 students.
The senator, who chairs the Senate energy and basic education committees, said the complete electrification of public primary and secondary schools in the country would result in the improvement of Filipino students’ performance in schools.
Citing a 2014 research conducted by the Institute of Development Studies, Gatchalian said the electrification of school resulted in more hours of study since children and adults can read even during the evening.
Performance indicators of schools and students tended to show direct long-term effects like better educational attainment if their schools are electrified, the senator further noted.
He also cited 2014 study conducted by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs which said that the provision of electricity to previously unenergized schools have a positive effect on children due to improved comfort and improved education brought about by better lighting.