THE Aquino administration has released P31.8 billion to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) for the proposed construction or rehabilitation of 22,325 classrooms nationwide as determined by the Department of Education (DepEd) to bolster the K to 12 program, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said Monday.

The fund will be charged against the DepEd's Provision and Maintenance of Basic Educational Facilities—also known as the Basic Educational Facilities Fund (BEFF) — in their FY 2014 Budget (RA 10633, Continuing Appropriations) and FY 2015 Budget (Republic Act 10651).

"Every year, we face the need to build more classrooms due to the growing number of public school students. Fortunately, we’re able to keep pace by allotting yearly increases in budgetary support for quality classrooms. With enough public funds for our education system, we can construct new school buildings or rehabilitate damaged classrooms," said Budget Secretary Florencio Abad.

"This takes time as the process of determining the number of targets is very exhaustive, with DepEd giving us a list of classrooms only after a thorough assessment. But we’re confident of achieving these requirements as the success of the Administration's K-to-12 school program depends on our efforts," Abad added.

Of the total P31.8 billion, P3.47 billion has been charged against the P44.6-billion FY 2014 GAA BEFF. The P3.47 billion is specifically allocated to the BEFF for the "construction, replacement, and completion of kindergarten, elementary, and secondary school buildings and the construction of water and sanitation facilities," as stated in the GAA. Likewise, this is supposed to "address remaining shortages and meet the requirements of the K-12 Basic Education Program."

On the other hand, the remaining P28.3 billion—divided into two releases—is charged against the P53.9-billion FY 2015 GAA BEFF. The P28.3 billion is specifically allocated to the BEFF for the “construction, replacement, and/or completion of kindergarten, elementary, and secondary school buildings and technical vocational laboratories, and the construction of water and sanitation facilities” as stated in the GAA.

Both amounts were released directly to the DPWH, which has the task of implementing the construction of the classrooms based on a list of school buildings and work program submitted by the DepEd.

Majority of the 22,325 targeted classrooms will be in Central Visayas, Eastern Visayas, and Calabarzon, Abad said. (SDR/Sunnex)