By Charissa Luci-Atienza
ACT Teachers partylist Rep. France Castro asked Tuesday the Department of Education (DepEd) to explain the snail-paced construction, repair, and rehabilitation of school buildings in the country.
She noted that the state auditors, in their 2018 report, found that out of 47,000 new classrooms, which were supposed to be constructed for this year, only 11 were completed.
“At the start of this year’s school year, teachers had to plead in social media platforms to show Department of Education officials about their working conditions. They had to look for idle spaces in their schools and resort to using an inoperative comfort room as a faculty room to compensate for the lack of classrooms and faculty rooms for students and teachers,” Castro said in a statement.
She described as “not isolated” and “not new” the incidents that teachers are using comfort rooms as restrooms, and that two classes are sharing one classroom, or students are using makeshift classrooms in covered courts.
Castro also expressed serious concern about reports that the Commission on Audit (COA) flagged the implementation of repair or rehabilitation of classrooms under the Basic Education Facilities Fun (BEFF).
“Malaki na nga ang ibinawas sa budget para sa school building fund tapos labing-isa lang ang makukumpleto? Kaya naman lalong wala nang mapuntahan at magamit ang mga guro at mag-aaral natin,” she said.
He noted that BEFF already had a whopping P74.488 billion cut in its budget from the P105 billion in 2018 to P30.973 billion in 2019.
“Budget for the BEFF was one of the biggest casualties in the 2019 budget. DepEd should explain the low delivery for the construction, repair, and rehabilitation of school buildings and classrooms which have been perpetual problems,” Castro said.
She said her group was demanding accountability from the DepEd, citing that the COA findings “are pathetic accomplishments from the education agency considering the magnitude of shortages in classrooms and school facilities.”
“Ultimately, it is the students and teachers who suffer from their inefficiency and further budget cuts in the Basic Education Facilities Fund. Teachers do not just complain about the lack of facilities in their schools to be ‘dramatic and touching.’ It is their everyday work situation that they have to endure,” Castro said.