Then naay recent update...
DepEd may move class opening from June to September
Originally Posted by mackiechoy
DepEd may move class opening from June to September
By Marvin Sy (The Philippine Star) Updated September 20, 2011
MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Education (DepEd) is studying the possibility of moving the opening of classes from June to September to reduce the disruption of classes due to bad weather during rainy season in the country.
Education Secretary Armin Luistro said during the Senate public hearing on DepEd’s proposed 2012 budget that there are now internal discussions about the proposals to move the school opening to September.
Consultations were conducted several months ago and the agency is now gathering data to be used for its evaluation.
He said that the DepEd has asked the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) and the regional offices of the education department for data on the amount of rainfall and the resulting suspension of classes over the past 10 years.
The proposal to move the opening of classes from June to September came up during the Senate hearing after committee on finance chairman Franklin Drilon and vice chairman Edgardo Angara directed Luistro to finally take a serious look into the proposals, which have been broached time and again.
Drilon said that moving the classes to September could lessen the disruption of classes due to bad weather.
He pointed out that the suspension of classes due to bad weather is compounded by the use of public school buildings as evacuation centers after the storms, resulting in even more suspension of classes.
“This is not a new issue, this has been an issue ever since. There are more school suspensions in the second half of the year as compared to the first half. That is quite obvious,” Drilon said.
Luistro noted that the DepEd has already collected data from 54 percent of its school divisions across the country.
“The initial trend is that the least destruction over the past 10 years, are during the months of January to May and then during the period of June to December, (we have the) number of months with the most suspensions (of classes),” Luistro said.
“We’re very serious about looking at this issue based on actual data. Maybe in a month’s time we can give the complete data,” he added.
After collecting the data, Luistro said that consultations would be made with the parents as well as the DepEd school divisions regarding the proposal to move the school opening.
If ever the final recommendation is to adopt the proposal to move the opening of school to September, Luistro said that this could be implemented as early as 2013.
“I will press the DepEd to make a decision on this. I am just suggesting to them that a decision be made because in my view, all indications would lead to the need to revise our school year for the benefit of everyone,” Drilon said.
“Suspension of classes means less time in the classroom. Less time in the classroom means less absorption by our schoolchildren,” he added.
Drilon wants audit of school building program
Drilon said the Commission on Audit (COA) should look into the school building program of the DepEd which is more expensive compared to the cost of construction of school building conducted by the private sector.
Luistro revealed that the DepEd spends around P650,000 for one classroom using the standard specifications of 7x9 meters.
Drilon said that the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FFCCCI) has been building the same classrooms at half the cost and so the DepEd should find ways to match this and help make up for the classroom shortage in the country.
He said the FFCCCI has managed to construct 7x7 meter classrooms, with comfort rooms and blackboards at only P250,000 each and if the DepEd specifications of 7x9 meters were to be followed, the cost would go up to just P325,000 per classroom.
“The COA should look into it. The COA has a value for money portion in its reports and that’s a proper area for a COA inquiry,” he added.
Drilon noted that his pork barrel since 2002 has gone to the school building program of the FFCCCI, which has constructed a total of 1,400 classrooms nationwide.
Using the FFCCCI cost, Drilon noted that the DepEd would be able to construct two classrooms instead of just one using its current budget of P650,000 per classroom.
Under the proposed P1.8-trillion national budget, the DepEd was allocated P18.2 billion for construction and rehabilitation of around 15,000 classrooms, the provision of 2.5 million desks and 25,000 toilets.
Luistro explained that the difference between the cost of the FFCCCI and the DepEd was due to the 12 percent contractor’s tax that the DepEd has to pay for the construction of classrooms.
“It goes through the regular bidding and via the contractors. There is a profit margin for the contractors,” he said.
Drilon agreed that the contractors do have a profit margin but to peg this at 100 percent would be “a bit excessive.”
“I just got a commitment that the FFCCCI is willing to construct 700 school buildings at P650,000 per building or P325,000 per classroom as against P650,000 per classroom budget allocation of the DepEd,” Drilon said.