PUBLIC SCHOOLS OVERCROWDED, BELOW WORLD STANDARDS
Opposition Sen. Chiz Escudero said yesterday the government should build more school buildings to meet the 1:25-30 classroom-student ratio recommended by the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
"With enrollment reaching 21 million this year, the government has again resorted to double, even triple, shifting to maximize the availability of classrooms in many of our public elementary and high schools," Escudero stressed.
"We have an environment that is not conducive to learning. This is probably another reason for the high dropout rates in our public schools," he said.
Escudero said only P3.5 billion in the DepEd's P158.2 billion budget for 2009 has been allocated for the building of more school buildings. He said the administration should divert some of its pork barrel to supplement the current school building fund.
The UNESCO report last year also shows the class size in the Philippines pales in comparison to Malaysia (1:31.7), Thailand (1:22.9), Japan (1:28.6), and India (1:40.)
Based on records from the Department of Education, the classroom shortage this year in all public elementary and high schools reached 7,087, with the National Capital Region (3,091) and Region IV-A (920) having the biggest lack of classrooms.
Other regions that have a severe shortage of classrooms are the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (851) and Region 7 (417).
To ease the classroom shortage, Escudero suggested government establish mechanisms for providing alternative sources of education like home study, particularly in rural areas, and in those regions where the classroom shortage is significant.
"Any government should make sure that the funds spent to boost education are spent for the right things. This is especially true to countries like the Philippines which has scarce funding sources," he said.
The Philippines only spends US$138 per student compared to US$852 in Thailand, and US$1,582 in Singapore.