February 2, 2023

The Department of Education-Cordillera is now working on the implementation of the agency’s Last Mile Schools Program in the region as part of its role in the whole-of-nation approach of the national government.
Georaloy Palao-ay, DepEd-CAR public affairs officer, said the program aims to assist schools located in geographically-isolated, disadvantaged, and conflicted areas, which for the past years have not been allotted budget for failing to meet the allocation criteria, such as number of students, for various education inputs.
Last mile schools are those with less than four classrooms, usually makeshift and nonstandard ones; no electricity; no funds for repairs or new construction projects in the last four years; and a travel distance of more than one hour away from the center, accessible only through difficult terrain.
These are schools with multi-grade classes, with less than five teachers, and a population of less than 100 learners, more than 75 percent of whom are indigenous peoples.
As of date, around 7,144 schools across the country have been identified as needing immediate support.
Palao-ay said almost all of the public elementary and high schools in the region have not passed the criteria, including Baguio City.
The program will be implemented in partnership with the local government units and respective communities, whose assistance would be in terms of logistics.
Palao-ay said DepEd technical people will conduct assessment of the needed equipment and facilities, which may comprise of indigenous materials or those available in the localities to be used with modern facilities like solar panels and advanced water and sanitation facilities.
He said they are targeting 38 schools for the program for 2020, particularly those lacking classrooms for multi-grade levels or those currently managing on makeshift classrooms.
“There are thousands of schools that have already been identified nationwide, but right now we are prioritizing the nearest of the identified far-flung schools as we are also depending on what budget is available,” Palao-ay said. – Hanna C. Lacsamana