By Betheena Kae Unite
The delay on the completion of school buildings in Eastern Visayas is due to issues such as “poor accessibility of school sites and fund allocation,” a high-ranking official of the Department of Public Works and Highways(DPWH) in the region recently bared.
More than half of the school buildings aimed to be completed for this school year in Eastern Visayas have been finished, DPWH-8 Director Edgar Tabacon said.
A total of 753 out of 1,302 school buildings in Eastern Visayas funded under the 2016 and 2017 Basic Education Facilities Fund (BEFF) of the Department of Education (DepEd) have been completed, according to Tabacon.
The construction of at least 523 school buildings are underway, however, the construction of 26 projects have yet to be started as of last month.
The delay, Tabacon noted, is due to poor accessibility of school sites, soil test failure, or the fund allocation is lower than what is needed on the actual implementation of the project.
“We did a lot of review because for some projects, the cost estimate is way below the actual requirement. It entails more budget to build classrooms in remote villages and island towns, but the allocation under BEFF is the same for all sites,” Tabacon said.
The school building projects in six provinces of the region have a combined budget of P9.39 billion.
A total of 103 school buildings are in Biliran province, 335 in Eastern Samar, 463 in Leyte, 90 in Northern Samar, 129 in Samar, 132 in Southern Leyte, and 50 in Tacloban City.
Tabacon further explained that the new school building projects are multi-storey structures, which require more stable soil.
“The biggest challenge is finding the most suitable site for high-rise school buildings,” he added.
DepEd, on the other hand, confirmed that “the unavailability of funds for soil testing and the need to review existing classroom designs were also issued at the onset, as these factors necessitated the computation of new rates and costing for construction.”
The new school buildings are designed to withstand strong winds and earthquakes, Tabacon added.
Meanwhile, the agency on Thursday announced the completion of a total of 381 additional school buildings or 851 classrooms in Western Visayas.
The projects received an allocation of P1.19 billion under DPWH and DepEd’s 2017 BEFF, Assistant Director Jose Al Fruto, of DPWH Region 6, said.
“These projects which include classroom buildings for elementary schools and secondary schools as well as workshop or laboratory buildings for senior high schools were hastened for completion in time for the opening of classes this year,” said Fruto.
With the additional school buildings, the government will be able to address the need for more classrooms, considering the increasing number of enrollees both in elementary and secondary as well as the senior high school students, Fruto added.
“Hopefully we can build a lot more classrooms this year and we, being parents, only wish to have better learning facilities for our children,” Fruto further stated.
However, the biggest public school in Negros Occidental lacks classrooms for 41 sections for this school year.
It was reported that the 41 sections in Negros Occidental High School might not have a permanent classroom yet and will possibly conduct their classes in the school’s other buildings like the auditorium or at the school’s quadrangle as the construction of 68 classrooms is underway.