Public sector help

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By Godofredo M. Roperos

Politics also

Wednesday, May 21, 2014


WITH the opening of the school year looming, many things are challenging concerned communities at ground level. They have to see to it that the needs of teachers and pupils are taken care of. For example, “more than 1,800 classrooms in northern Cebu…need repairs” after last year’s twin calamities.”

The thing is that, as of this late date, some 359 classrooms in northern Cebu alone need to be replaced. The question is, can the needed intervention be made in time for the class opening? An objective assessment indicates a negative picture of the response, unless some help could be had from sources other than the government.

During “the launch of the “Brigada Eskwela” in Bantayan island the other day, the director of the Department of Education (DepEd) revealed that some students will have to attend classes in damaged classrooms. He said that what is needed is “more than band-aid solution.” Assistance from the private sector could somehow ease the situation.

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“Brigada Eskwela” participants, for example, help the schools prepare for the opening of classes by repainting the classrooms, cleaning up the school grounds and repairing desks, chairs and other facilities. Commercial establishments are asked to donate materials like cement and paint. Students, parents and teachers volunteer to do the work.

The holding of the Brigada, the first after the twin calamities hit Cebu last year, is significant considering government’s inability to provide materials for the repairs.

Cebu province proposed a rehabilitation plan costing P10.45 billion, including P735 million for school repairs, but the funding is still to be approved by the Cabinet. I am not sure whether the province’s disaster risk reduction office or rehabilitation czar Ping Lacson himself had something to do with the delay.

Actually, DepEd has funds for the repair of the schools, according to the governor. This is aside from what the Capitol requested from the higher government.

The province has already released the funds intended for Yolanda-damaged schools. The Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. is also helping in school repairs, representing the private sector.

The use of the P10 billion sought by the governor for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of areas under 15 local government units in northern Cebu has five components, one of them being social infrastructure, which includes education.

The amount allocated for social infrastructure is P874.032 million. It seems that education has the biggest share of the budget amounting to something like P735.595 million on top of the P65.538 million requested for water sanitation facilities.

At any rate, the problem of DepEd and the need to enhance the capability of our schools to prepare for the start the school year this June are being solved with the recognition of the responsibility of the private sector to help out. And it is just right that they come out and share with the responsibility of educating our youth.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on May 22, 2014.

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