THE House committee on basic education and culture approved on Thursday, August 6, 2020, three measures that would strengthen last mile schools as well as establish public schools and roads in isolated and conflict-affected areas in the country.

House Bills (HBs) no. 307, 3072, and 4978 were authored by Representatives Joey Sarte Salceda, Jose Antonio Sy-Alvarado, and John Marvin “Yul Servo” Nieto, respectively.

Salceda’s HB 307 requires the convergence between the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the Department of Education (DepEd) in constructing infrastructures facilities that will benefit students in geographically isolated and disadvantaged conflict affected schools (GIDCAS) and last mile public schools.

Last mile schools are those situated farthest/remotest from town centers, have less than four classrooms, no electricity, and less than 100 learners.

More than half of its learners belong to indigenous people communities.

These schools also have makeshift/non-standard rooms and have had no repairs/new projects in the last four years.

Salceda said there are currently about 8,000 last mile public schools nationwide that need to be “empowered and strengthened.”

“Investment in infrastructure which ensures equitable access to education, most especially those in geographically isolated and disadvantaged, and vulnerable is the key intent of this proposed legislation,” Salceda said.

HB 3072, proposed by Sy-Alvarado, seeks to establish basic education schools in every indigenous peoples community in the country.

According to National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) Commissioner Norberto Navarro, there are about 130 indigenous peoples groups in the country.

“It is herein mandated that there shall be established at least one basic education school for every indigenous peoples’ community in the country,” the bill read.

“An initial amount of P100 million necessary for the implementation of this act shall be included in the Anual General Appropriations Act upon the effectivity of this Act,” it added.

Nieto’s HB 4978 also seeks to establish a basic education school in every indigenous peoples community in the country.

The lawmaker said that it is the right of indigenous peoples to “revitalize, use, develop, and transmit to future generations their histories, oral traditions, philosophies, writing systems and literatures, and to designate and retain their own names for communities, places and persons.”

A motion to consolidate the three measures has been made. The final version will again be presented to the committee. (SunStar Philippines)