Schools to open but classrooms in Yolanda-hit areas have yet to be built
MANILA, Philippines — As schools open on Monday (June 2), the Department of Education (DepEd) has yet to start the construction of at least 2,000 classrooms to replace those destroyed by Super Typhoon “Yolanda” seven months ago.
DepEd has reported that 2,313 new classrooms have to be built and 17,757 others have to be repaired in the Yolanda-hit regions.
The bidding process at the DepEd division field offices for the classroom construction was delayed by having to redesign the structure to make them more disaster-resilient.
The new design was finalized by DepEd and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DepEd) last April.
“The construction should start in a month or so because once they (division offices) award the contract, they should already start,” said Undersecretary for finance Francisco Varela.
The construction itself should take about 60 to 90 days, he added.
While the government procurement process for the construction is still ongoing, DepEd field offices have started the bigger work on repairing nearly 18,000 damaged classrooms.
DepEd estimates it needs P2.9 billion to construct 2,313 new classrooms in the Yolanda-affected areas.
The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) will fund most of the construction through its P2-billion pledge, which is good for about 2,000 classrooms.
“We had to reconcile this (new design) with the Pagcor design, which are mostly one-story classrooms, which will entail additional cost,” Varela said.
The new design will push up the cost by about 30 per cent, so that a one-story classroom would now cost nearly P1 million from the previous P780,000.
Varela said they have raised P400 million from private donors, and would use P500 million out of the department’s classroom construction budget this year to fill the gap.
The construction is further held up as the DepEd still has to assess the list of needed classrooms “depending on the urgent needs of the school,” according to Varela.
DepEd Undersecretary for private partnerships and external linkages Mario Deriquito, 60 new classrooms have so far been built and 1,055 damaged classrooms repaired by private donors.
The construction of 172 more classrooms has been ongoing, he said. Deriquito said they have received private donor pledges for 1,141 new classrooms.
Meanwhile DepEd calculated that the repair of 17,757 classrooms would cost P5.3 billion.
To start the repairs, Varela said they have disbursed some P1 billion from the department’s “savings” from last year.
But the bulk of the funds is still held up by pending requests before the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).
DepEd is still waiting for the DBM’s approval to avail of P1 billion from the multi-billion-peso post-Yolanda rehabilitation fund, and approval to use some P2.3 billion in the department’s “savings” from last year to fund the repair work.
Varela said Congress has allowed departments to use their 2013 budget “savings” for the rehabilitation.
He said they would fund the remaining P1 billion from private donations and the department’s 2014 budget for school repairs.
In the meantime, DepEd expects affected schools to hold classes in temporary learning spaces, suggesting a wooden structure costing P50,000 to P60,000 instead of the closed tents that are costlier.
By DepEd’s assessment, 2,990 schools in five Yolanda-devastated regions needs 2,313 new classrooms and 17,757 classroom repairs.
More than half of the affected schools are in Eastern Visayas (Region 8), with 1,350 schools needing 1,151 new classrooms and 9,420 classroom repairs.
In Eastern Visayas, 975 schools in Leyte province needed 751 new classrooms and 7,745 classroom repairs; 179 schools in Eastern Samar province needed 271 new classrooms and 793 classroom repairs; 110 schools in Western Samar province needed 124 new classrooms and 486 classroom repairs; and 86 schools in Biliran province needed five new classrooms and 396 classroom repairs.
In Western Visayas (Region 6), 1,152 schools needed 679 new classrooms and 5,895 classroom repairs
In the province of Capiz, 522 schools needed 189 new classrooms and 3,172 classroom repairs; 238 schools in Aklan needed 21 new classrooms and 1,113 classroom repairs; 190 schools in Iloilo needed 344 new classrooms and 1,020 classroom repairs; 129 schools in Negros Occidental needed 30 classrooms and 445 classroom repairs; and 73 schools in Antique needed 95 new classrooms and 145 classroom repairs.
In Central Visayas (Region 7), 353 schools in Cebu province needed 366 new classrooms and 1,973 classroom repairs.
In Mimaropa (Region 4-B), 124 schools in the provinces of Occidental Mindoro, Palawan and Romblon needed 115 new classrooms and 435 classroom repairs.
Lastly in the Caraga region, Supertyphoon Yolanda left 11 schools in the Dinagat Islands needing two new classrooms and 34 classroom repairs.
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