South Cotabato lacks 130 classrooms, seeks funding

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/9 Aug) – The South Cotabato government is seeking a funding to address a massive public classroom shortage across the province, officials said.

The province needs additional 93 classrooms for elementary schools and 37 classrooms for secondary schools, or a total of 130 classrooms, according to the Basic Education Information System of the South Cotabato-Department of Education division.

South Cotabato Gov. Arthur Pingoy said they plan to obtain a loan worth P40 million from the Development Bank of the Philippines for the construction of school buildings.

“[There is a need to construct] such classrooms in partnership with funding agencies to cope with the present 130-classroom shortage based on a ratio of 41.48 students per classroom,” he said.

Only five school districts in the province reportedly have sufficient number of classrooms out of the total 18 school districts.

The school districts with huge classroom shortage are located in the upper valley towns of T’boli and Lake Sebu, both with dense indigenous people’s population.

These include the T’boli West District with a shortage of 50 classrooms, T’boli East District with 22, and Lake Sebu East District with 27.

Bernardita Vallar, provincial budget officer, claimed the P40-million loan proposal will not be enough to address the classroom shortage.

She said the provincial government is hoping to forge partnerships with public and private institutions to address the need.

Negotiations to construct the classroom project in partnership with the Department of Education, Dole Philippines, Inc. and Chiukim Construction Co. have begun.

Pingoy said he already asked the South Cotabato Sangguniang Panlalawigan to grant him the authority to enter a loan agreement with the DBP.

The proposed loan for 10 years with DBP will have an annual interest rate of 7.5 percent, which Pingoy described as “advantageous to the local government unit.”

Pingoy said they are keen on pushing the construction of the classrooms to make the learning environment convenient to students and teachers alike.

Aside from the classroom shortage, he earlier said that the province also lacks 15,000 chairs for the elementary and public school system. (Bong S. Sarmiento / MindaNews)