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DepEd to build 1,187 classrooms in Soccsksargen

Hundreds of students flock to their school at Tboli National High School, feeling excited to attend the first day of classes on August 29 for the school year 2023-2024. (Photo via DepEd Tayo Tboli Facebook Page)

KORONADAL CITY (PIA) -- The Department of Education (DepEd) assured that it will prioritize the construction of more school buildings and classrooms to accommodate the growing student population in Soccsksargen.

DepEd 12 Assistant Regional Director Kathrine Lotilla disclosed that for the school year 2023-2024, at least 1,187 classroom buildings have already been approved for implementation.

The construction, with an approved budget of over P3 billion, would benefit learners in the provinces of Cotabato, South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, and Sarangani, including General Santos City.

"We already considered and analyzed the total number of enrollments versus the existing inventory, and added to that are the newly constructed classrooms at the moment," she noted.

According to Lotilla, DepEd has also been exerting efforts to improve the utilization of existing classrooms, which includes the implementation of class-shifting schedules, particularly at lower grade levels, where students are divided into groups with scheduled classes in the morning and afternoon.

"Part of the mitigation is that the department really employs class shifting, particularly to the lower grade levels, but that’s analyzing the approved contact time and guidelines of the K to 12 program," Lotilla said.

Based on the department’s Learner Information System (LIS), the Soccsksargen region registered over a million enrollees for the new school year. However, there is a significant shortage of 8,275 classrooms in the region as of February 2023.

DepEd Regional Director Carlito Rocafort takes time to observe and monitor the situation during the opening of classes for SY 2023-2024 in his area of responsibility in Region 12. (Photo via DepEd Tayo Soccsksargen Facebook Page)

In a press briefing, DepEd Soccsksargen Regional Director Carlito Rocafort cited the increase in enrollment, wear and tear of existing facilities, and budget constraints as some of the reasons for the deficiency.

"There must be a short-term and long-term solution because, actually, we cannot address all the needs or all the gaps in terms of classrooms and school buildings at once because it will cost so much," he said.

Acknowledging the need to provide an immediate solution, the department is working with stakeholders to overcome the challenges and ensure that all learners have access to a safe and conducive learning environment.

"The short-term plan of DepEd is that before 2028 or 2026, holding classes under the shade of trees must no longer happen," Rocafort pointed out.

The official also highlighted the active partnership of the department with local government units and the private sector in helping boost the number of school buildings vis-à-vis the registered number of students.

DepEd also vowed to increase the number of classrooms, even at the grassroots level, once the plan becomes operational.

“Our municipal, city, and provincial local governments are really helping the department by way of constructing temporary learning shelters,” he said, emphasizing the word “temporary.”

Rocafort further explained that the move aims to bridge the classroom gap through innovative and community-centered programs that would not only provide students with the physical space to learn but also empower communities and promote sustainable development. (ORVR – PIA South Cotabato)

Teachers in General Santos City express gratitude to the Schools Division Office of General Santos City for its initiative to implement the use of the Learning Resource Package (LRP) in all their subjects. The LRP, which is in its pilot stage and consists of daily lesson plans and PowerPoint presentations, aims to help teachers make learning preparations easier so they can focus more on teaching the lessons to their students. (Photo: DepEd Tayo Gensan Facebook Page)

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