■ Ofelia C. Empian
The Cordillera, which produces top graduates and licensure examinees, lacks around 3,106 classrooms for thousands of elementary and secondary learners, according to the Department of Education.
The DepEd-CAR Education Support Services Division reported that Mountain Province has the highest need with 780 classrooms for elementary, secondary, and integrated classes followed by Benguet with 551, Baguio City with 384, Tabuk City with 372, Kalinga with 361, Ifugao with 257, Abra with 229, and Apayao with 551.
ESSD head Christopher Hadsan said these are the estimated shortages based on the existing classrooms in contrast with the supposed required classrooms for learners in the various provinces.
Hadsan said though there are identified classroom needs, Abra remains the priority of the agency due to damaged facilities following the July 27, 2022 earthquake and other calamities that hit the province.
DepEd-CAR has coordinated with the DepEd central office and other agencies in order to rebuild the damaged school buildings in Abra.
DepEd-CAR Education Program Supervisor Alfredo Lanas, during the Education Week press conference, said some schools are still conducting blended learning due to lack of classrooms and chairs.
In 2021, the DepEd central office procured chairs to be distributed to the various regional offices, however Hadsan said there was a problem with the service provider for its hauling. Thus, the chairs remained at the warehouse.
“The DepEd provided a budget for its hauling and assembly last month,” Hadsan said, adding there is no update yet how many of these chairs will benefit the region.
Hadsan added the newly-constructed school buildings and calamity-stricken schools are given priority to be furnished with tables and chairs – Ofelia C. Empian