We were going about the information just released by education secretary Armin Luistro about the overwhelming shortages in books and (writing & sitting) desks in the nation’s public school system.
The good secretary revealed that the shortage amount to 2.5 million pieces of chairs (not so clear if it is a chair and table set or a two-in-one desk of the old genre) to finally accommodate and seat all pupils in 45,000 public elementary and secondary schools in the country.
But while the school year begins in June of every year, the shortage on learning paraphernalias- i.e. books among other items, is always a given fact the department can not fully address. DepEd has full knowledge schools need 100 million volumes of books in a given year. Four months into the school year and DepEd announced delivery is just underway to fill the backlog on five core subjects— Math, Science, English, Filipino and Araling Panlipunan. Underway means far flung schools will have to wait from today up until whenever.
Ideally, each student is assigned a set of chair and table or a desk and receives a set of book on any given subject for an ideal ratio of one is to one. The prevailing situation find pupils and students sitting on the floor or standing at the back of the classroom while taking notes or listening to instruction in a very ackward position. How one share when there’s not much space to lay the book on when two or more persons share one textbook is a discomforting arrangement.
Confronted with these shortcomings, the department has to rely on other government agencies and the private sector for succor. It has an active partnership with the TESDA (Technical Education and Skills Development Authority), the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and the PAGCOR (Philippine Amusement and Gaming corporation) in building classroom chairs out of confiscated illegal lumbers.
There is still a dire need for 60,000 classrooms nationwide. For this, DepEd had to source co-funding pledges from local government units and the Philippines Business for social Progress, the largest corporate-led, non-profit social development foundation in the country. It was looking into building 10,000 classrooms in a two-year period. But still not enough to close the gap shortage considering that enrolment on a yearly basis do not regress.
We do not need to stress enough on these as parents and students themselves get a first hand experience on the delivery of educational service in the towns and localities in the Bicol region.
If the DepEd falls short in the delivery of its mandated task, can we trace the source of its failure from the people perched on top of the higher echelon of the government including the august and honorable ladies and gentlemen in the legislative chambers who are part and partial in the decision of whether to chop or add in the budget provision?
Looking about the many “alleged” financial plunder cases against government officials and offices that has been ongoing, being investigated upon and maybe still out there clandestinely operating, the moneys lost and getting into some pockets could have been effectively allocated to the under budgetted DepEd. What do you think?