KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/17 January)—Classrooms for public high school students have been found wanting in Region 12, with a shortage of 725 to meet the standard classroom to student ratio of one is to 45, statistics released recently showed.
Herlita Caraan, National Statistical Coordination Board regional chief, said that public secondary schools in what is also known as SOCCSKSARGEN region is in dire need of more classrooms.
“Crowded classrooms have been a perennial problem in most public schools in the SOCCSKSARGEN region most particularly in public secondary schools,” she said, citing data from the Department of Education.
The standard classroom-student ratio in the Philippines is one classroom for every 45 students as prescribed by Republic Act 7880 titled “An Act Providing for the Fair and Equitable Allocation of the Department of Education, Culture and Sports’ Budget for Capital Outlay.”
The prescribed classroom size for a classroom-student ratio of 1:45 is about 7m x 7m for rural areas or 7m x 9m classroom for suburban areas.
The 7m x 9m classroom shall also be the standard size for all public secondary schools, regardless of location and class size.
For 45 students, this classroom size is believed to provide an environment conducive for learning, where a teacher could interact freely with the students and exercise order and control.
In a fact sheet released by the regional NSCB, the classroom-student ratio in the area for the school years 2006-2010 remained way above the standard of 1:45.
The region’s classroom-student ratio averaged 1:52 in SY 2006-2007, though it slightly improved to 1:49 in SY 2010-2011, it noted.
Among the provinces and cities, worst off are Sarangani at 66 students per classroom, Sultan Kudarat at 63, and Tacurong City at 62 in SY 2010-2011.
The biggest improvement in classroom-student ratios in the five previous school years was noted in Kidapawan City at 1:63 in SY 2006-2007 to 1:44 in SY 2010-2011.
A decline in classroom-student ratios was posted by Sarangani (1:61 to 1:66), Sultan Kudarat (1:58 to 1:63) and Tacurong City (1:60 to 1:62) for the same comparative period.
Conforming to the standard ratio as of SY 2010-2011 were General Santos City with 1:40, Cotabato City (1:43), Kidapawan City (1:44), and South Cotabato (1:44).
Both Cotabato City and General Santos City, however, have adopted three shifts of classes per day, which indicate that they have actually a real shortage of classrooms.
If a single shift was adopted to meet the 1:45 standard ratio, General Santos City needs 173 more classrooms and Cotabato City, 91 classrooms.
Other areas that lack many classrooms are Sarangani (185), Sultan Kudarat (182), North Cotabato (64), Tacurong City (31) and Koronadal City (21).
Overall, Region 12 is in need of 725 additional classrooms in order to meet the standard classroom-student ratio on a single shift per day as of SY 2010-2011.
Enrolment in public secondary schools in Region 12 has been growing annually by 2.4 percent from 210,267 in SY 2006-2007 to 230,916 in SY 2010-2011.
In January last year, the DepEd said it has signed a memorandum of agreement with the League of Municipalities of the Philippines and the Department of Budget and Management for a 50-50 sharing of the cost of a school building with the municipal government.
The DepEd will also look into the build-operate-transfer scheme, foreign grants and corporate foundations to further close the classroom gap in the Philippines. (Bong Sarmiento/MindaNews)