20,000 classrooms to be built for ‘job generator’ senior high school
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Education (DepEd) is keeping its eye on the approaching rollout, two years from now, of senior high school, the centerpiece of its K to 12 (Kindergarten to Grade 12) reform program.
On top of rebuilding classrooms destroyed by Super Typhoon “Yolanda” (Haiyan) and other disasters in 2013 and constructing new ones to fill the shortage in some schools, the DepEd has to construct at least 10,000 more classrooms this year in preparation for senior high school. About P15 billion of its record P337-billion budget for 2014 was earmarked for this.
Next year, its target is to construct 20,000 more classrooms for senior high school. “So we should be ready to meet senior high school in 2016,” said Francis Varela, education undersecretary for finance.
This year will see the last batch of graduates from a four-year high school curriculum. Next year’s fourth-year high school, or Grade 10 students, will have to go on to Grade 11 by June 2016, the full implementation of the added two-year senior high school.
By 2016, the new minimum 13-year (from the current 10-year) basic education curriculum will consist of one-year kindergarten, six years of elementary and six years of high school.
Two years ago, 30 schools piloted the senior high school program, graduating students in April.
Education Secretary Armin Luistro himself was at the graduation rites of the first 100 senior high school graduates of the Merida Vocational School and Palo National High School in Leyte.
Among the graduates, 81 have acquired national certification in automotive, metals and engineering, tourism and information and communications technology (ICT) that gave them employable skills, while seven will reportedly go to college.
The DepEd said 54 schools have now volunteered to implement the senior high school program ahead of the nationwide implementation in June 2016.
Varela said the DepEd was projecting that about 70 percent or 1.4 million of the 2 million incoming senior high school students from public schools in 2016 and 2017 would remain in public schools.
The DepEd hopes that the rest will shift and take up senior high school in private schools through the subsidy system that will be given directly to the students’ families.
Last year, however, private school enrollment (kinder, elementary and high school) went down while public school enrollment went up. More than 200,000 students were added to the public school enrollment, which went up from 20.67 million in 2012 to 20.88 million in 2013.
At the same time, private school enrollment went down by around 33,000 or from 3.05 million in 2012 to 3.02 million last year.
For 2014, the DepEd’s record P337-billion budget provided for regular classrooms construction worth P37.6 billion; 33,194 new teacher items; 13,586 water and sanitation facilities; 1,596,921 school furniture and 15,966 computer packages.
Saying it had filled up the backlog in classrooms and seats as of 2010, the DepEd said it still had to cope with the annual increase in enrollment after 2010, the regular wear and tear of school items as well as the effects of natural disasters.
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