GENERAL SANTOS CITY(MindaNews/27 April) — Development planners in Region 12 are pushing for the construction this year of 637 additional classroom buildings through a public-private partnership (PPP) initiative implemented by the Department of Education (DepEd).
City Mayor Darlene Antonino-Custodio, Regional Development Council (RDC)-12 chairperson, said the additional classroom buildings comprise the region’s allocation this year under the second phase of DepEd’s PPP for School Infrastructure Project (PSIP II).
She said the agency has identified 300 public elementary and secondary schools in the region as beneficiaries of the program.
Region 12, also called the Soccsksargen Region, comprises the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and North Cotabato and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.
The mayor said the RDC-12 recently endorsed the PSIP II to facilitate the program’s immediate implementation in the region.
She said the move was also aimed to help realize the country’s goals of posting “zero backlogs” for classrooms by the end of the year.
DepEd earlier launched the program to address the classroom shortage in public schools in the country that reached 66,800 units in 2010.
“(But) due to budgetary constraints and institutional capacity limitations, the government traditionally builds on the average about 10,000 classrooms annually,” Custodio noted.
To address the problem, she said DepEd adopted the PPP framework based on Republic Act 6957 or the Build-Operate-Transfer law as a strategy to supplement the provision of educational facilities in the public school system in order to achieve President Benigno S. Aquino III’s 10-point agenda for basic education.
Under the PSIP, Custodio said the private sector designs, finances and constructs the buildings and the government pays the proponent upon turnover of the completed school facilities, which are covered by a special allotment release order issued by the Department of Budget and Management.
DepEd had projected that the country’s classroom shortage will increase by 150,000 units by the year 2016, with the full implementation of the government’s K to 12 education program.
The K to 12 program, which was first implemented by DepEd in 2012, provided an additional two years to the country’s basic education program.
It covers Kindergarten and 12 years of basic education, comprising six years of primary education, four years of junior high school and two years of senior high school.
The program was mainly aimed “to provide suffi¬cient time for the mastery of concepts and skills, develop lifelong learners, and prepare graduates for tertiary education, middle-level skills development, employment and entrepreneurship.” (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)