School building in Barangay Coronobe, Maragausan, Davao de Oro (Courtesy of Davao de Oro-PIO)

MANILA – Local government units (LGUs) must be given the task of building classrooms to efficiently address the shortage nationwide, Senator Win Gatchalian proposed during a recent budget hearing.

The senator thinks his proposal will be effective as LGUs always have construction and building works anyway.

“DepEd (Department of Education) will get 50 percent of the funds and the LGU gets the other 50 percent, but it’s the LGU that builds,” Gatchalian said in a news release on Saturday.

Gatchalian said he will file a bill that will allow the construction of classrooms in school buildings that are more than four-story high, noting that there is an existing regulation that prohibits the construction of classrooms beyond the fourth floor.

He said this will allow the faster construction of classrooms, especially in urban areas where schools have higher student populations.

Citing figures from DepEd, Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman previously said that as of Dec. 31, 2021, there are some 15,000 ongoing constructions of classrooms, some of which date back from 2014.

The budget chief added that for 2021, the Department of Public and Works and Highways’ obligation rate for the construction of school buildings was at 92 percent but the disbursement rate was just 45 percent.

“The concept there is to decentralize the construction because the construction part is the bottleneck,” added Gatchalian, chair of the Committee on Basic Education.

Under the 2023 National Expenditure Program, at least PHP5.9 billion is allocated for the construction, replacement, and completion of kindergarten, elementary, and secondary school buildings and technical vocational laboratories.

The amount will also cover the construction of water and sanitation facilities. (PNA)