DepEd-7: ‘Last-mile’ schools’ principals to be tasked to facilitate building of classrooms

By: Rosalie O. Abatayo May 19,2019 - 02:02 PM

Schoolchildren in a mountain barangay in Cebu have to cross a river to attend their classes in this 2018 photo. | CDN file photo

CEBU CITY, Philippines — Lack of classrooms continue to be one of the most pressing concerns of public schools as a new school year starts on June 3.

This is much more experienced in ‘last-mile schools’ or those located in far-flung communities.

Dr. Juliet Jeruta, Department of Education in Central Visayas (DepEd-7) regional director, said the increase in enrollees had caused the inadequacy of classrooms for the community schools.

However, the geographical terrain of these areas have hindered the construction of additional facilities.

“Kahit may budget, hindi ma-implement yung [construction of the] school buildings dahil walang contractor na kukuha kasi lugi daw sila, ang layo, malaki ang gastos sa pagtransport ng materials,” Jeruta explained.

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(Even if the construction of the school buildings have been budgeted, we cannot implement it because no contractor is willing to take the project considering the high cost in the delivery of materials.)

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To address this, Jeruta said the education department is now looking into delegating the task to build the school buildings to the school heads.

“Ang central office mismo, sa kanilang pagstudy kung ano ang mga hindering factors on why itong mga school building kahit may budget ay hindi mapatayo, nagrelax ng guidelines. Sa last-mile schools, instead na DPWH ang magprocure, parang pinahintulotan na maging principal-led ito or by administration,” Jeruta said.

(The DepEd Central office decided to ease their procurement guidelines as they saw, upon evaluation, the factors that hinder the implementation of the school buildings. For last-mile schools, principals or school administrators will be given the authority to procure instead of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).)

Jeruta said they are currently conducting an audit to determine which schools in Cebu, Negros Oriental, Bohol and Siquijor should be considered as ‘last-mile schools’ and be recommended for school-building construction via administration.

“Meaning ibibigay sa paaralan yung budget at sila na ang bahala sa pagpapatayo so they can make use of their local carpenters, local construction workers, yung mga tindaan sa kanilang area para hindi na i-transport yung mga materyales doon na lang kukunin,” Jeruta said

“This means less cost at ma-stretch pa nila ang kanilang budget to include other facilities na kakailanganin nila,” she added.

The DepEd official said once they would be able to determine the ‘last-mile schools,’ they would recommend to their central office and to the Department of Budget and Management that the funding for school building construction in these areas be downloaded to the school treasury.\dbs

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