Region 12 needs 272 more high school classrooms

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 24 June) – Public secondary high schools in Region 12 only need 272 additional classrooms to meet the increase in enrollment this school year and reach the standard classroom-to-student ratio of 1:45, the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) reported.

Herlita Caraan, NSCB Region 12 chief, said Tuesday such figure was based on the projected total enrollment this year of 243,364 students in 456 high schools in the region.

Based on such enrollment record, she said the region needs a total of 5,408 classrooms if the standard classroom-to-student ratio is strictly followed.

As of school year 2013-2014, she said Region 12’s secondary schools only had a total of 5,136 classrooms.

For this school year, the official said Sarangani posted the biggest need in terms of additional classrooms at 161, followed by Sultan Kudarat at 130, this city at 118 and Cotabato City at 93.

North Cotabato has excess or spare classrooms of 160 units, South Cotabato with 34, Kidapawan City with 24, Koronadal City with 6 and Tacurong City with 5.

“Among the municipalities, classroom shortage should immediately be addressed in Lutayan and Columbio in Sultan Kudarat and in Glan and Maasim in Sarangani as their high school classroom-to-student ratios are greater than 60 students per classroom,” she cited.

Caraan said their records showed that enrolment in public secondary schools in the region has been growing by about 1.3 percent annually in the last five years, with Sarangani posting the highest growth rate at 5.7 percent.

Sultan Kudarat posted an annual high school population growth rate of 2.5 percent, followed by South Cotabato at 1.9 percent, this city at 0.5 percent, North Cotabato at 0.4 percent and Cotabato City at 0.3 percent.

Tacurong City’s high school enrollment has dropped from 2009 to 2013 by 2.5 percent, Koronadal City by 0.7 percent and Kidapawan City by 0.5 percent.

During the last five years, Caraan said students studying in public secondary schools in Region 12 were confronted with overcrowded classrooms every year.

Citing data from the Department of Education, she said the number of students per classroom in the region in the previous school year averaged at 47 or two students higher from the ideal classroom-to-student ratio of 1:45.

But she said such figure was considered as a major improvement when compared to the 1:49 ratio recorded five years ago.

“Crowded classrooms in Region 12 were especially noted in the cities of Cotabato (1:65) and General Santos (1:52) and in the provinces of Sarangani (1:55) and Sultan Kudarat (1:54). The rest of the provinces and cities in the region managed to be within the standard classroom-to-student ratio,” she noted.

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) issued the go-signal earlier this month for the release of P960.8 million to facilitate construction of 929 additional classrooms in the region.

DBM had announced that it has released an additional P7.35 billion for the construction of more classrooms in public elementary and secondary schools in parts of the country.

Among the country’s 17 regions, Region 12 received the second biggest allocation for the project, which will be implemented by the Department of Public Works and Highways.

In the last two years, the DepEd central office facilitated the construction of 1,244 more classrooms in the region to fill the area’s backlog.