Press Release
June 2, 2006


Saying that the classroom shortage controversy is symptomatic of the education sectors dire lack of budgetary support, Senator Mar Roxas yesterday said the first step towards having a permanent solution is recognizing the dimensions of the real problem.

The confusion and disagreement on the true state of the countrys classroom shortage bring to the fore the one thing we all need to recognize: that the education sector, particularly basic education requirements which include classrooms, lack not only money but also the political will to look for and devote money for education, Roxas said.

The senator from Capiz said these after President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo scolded Department of Education (DepEd) acting secretary Fe Hidalgo on the classroom shortage. Hidalgo said there is a classroom shortage of 6,832. The President said that by following a two-shift policy with a classroom to pupil ratio of 1:100 ratio, there is none.

The two-shift policy involves holding classes in double shifts in one classroom, one in the morning and another in the afternoon, with pupils attending classes from 7:00 A.M. to 1:00 P. M. in the first shift and from 1:00 to 7:00 P. M. in the second shift. It covers the elementary and secondary levels and pegs the average class size to 50 pupils in one classroom.

There are schools in Quezon City, in Batasan, Commonwealth, and Sandiganbayan that even have three shifts because of classroom shortage, Roxas said.

The problems with the two- or even three-shift policy are real and urgent. It definitely means more expenses in terms of electricity and water and shorter time allotted for classes, he warned.

But the policys most adverse consequences would be on the children and the teachers, Roxas added. He cited tardiness resulting from the early start of classes and the exposure to external risks because children could not come home earlier.

We should acknowledge the two-shift policy as a compensatory stop gap measure but not as the long-term ideal. As they say in the business world, let us not give up on the long term. We should strive for a one-shift policy with the standard, ideal ratio of pupils to a classroom, he said.

Roxas said DepEd data show that the classroom shortage in school year 2004-2005 was 51,947, if the ideal classroom to pupil ratio of 1:45 is strictly adhered to. But when the DepEd implemented its two-shift policy under DepEd Order No. 62 in December 2004, the classroom shortage was artificially wiped out and reduced to 17,873 classrooms in SY 2005-2006, with the classroom to pupil ratio increased to 1:100.

The DepEd data show an actual classroom gap of 41,197 classrooms for the 1:45 ratio in SY 2006-2007, and this, together with the shortage of 10,517 teachers, 1.5 million seats, and 41.32 million textbooks, would need P22.88 billion to close.

Roxas, who is batting for an increase of P9.18 billion more in the 2006 General Appropriations Act precisely for classrooms, teachers, seats, and books, reiterated that the only way to remedy the classroom lack and the other basic education problems is for the government to exercise political will and re-direct resources to education.

He urged the administration to use the funds it had identified for a plebiscite on Charter change to build more classrooms. He observed that if it is true the administration is prepared to spend for the Charter change initiative, the money for that should be better devoted to education.

This is the right thing to do. This is the real priority and not some phantom problems ascribed to the Constitution, he said.

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