TWO legislators believed that the decentralization of the National Capital Region (NCR) will help solve the country's classroom shortage.

House committee on basic education and culture chair Carmen Cojuangco and committee on higher and technical education chair Roman Romulo both agreed that the decentralization of Metro Manila will result to less number of students that will be accommodated in government-run schools.

"We have to decentralize Manila. It has to be an over-all, big, grand scale plan to decentralize (the capital). Start developing areas outside of Manila that are complete so that people will not be afraid to live in those areas. People come here because everything's here. Why don't we start putting our attention into other provinces, in the North, in the South, Central Luzon," said Conjuangco in a news conference.

Conjuanco noted that a total of 66,813 classrooms had been built as of December 2013 to address the 2010 backlog of 66,800.

"So if you look at the figures we don't have problem but this is based on 2010 backlog. For 2011 and 2014, my committee is trying to get figures from the DepEd, what is really the actual backlog because, why are there still complaints about lack of classrooms and over filling of classrooms," she added.

She added that from 2011 to 2014 the number of students has increased significantly.

"There's also a lot of migrants from all over the country coming in to Manila and every year the public schools get a little bit of shock because they have all these school children and that just appear in the public schools and they’re mostly from the provinces and maybe also because of the typhoon hit areas like Yolanda so there is congestion," she said.

On his part, Romulo said that the government could not construct new school buildings in the capital because of lack of spaces.

"The main problem, if we build more classrooms, is the area, also we cannot afford to buy vacant lot for school buildings," he said.

Meanwhile, Leyte Representative Ferdinand Martin Romualdez said the independent minority bloc will demand an immediate and detailed explanation from Education Secretary Armin Luistro on classroom shortages in various areas nationwide, especially in provinces hit by super typhoon Yolanda.

He said that President Benigno Aquino III and Luistro have been saying that there are no more classroom shortages for this school year.

"In Leyte alone, thousands of our elementary and high school students are holding classes in tents and makeshift classrooms. Here in Metro Manila, media reports say the Department of Education was swamped with complaints of lack of classrooms and worst, some facilities were even used as classrooms just to accommodate big numbers of students when classes started last Monday," Romualdez said.

Romualdez said that as early as February of this year, the government already announced that the repair and rehabilitation of damaged school buildings and classrooms have already started.

"We will ask Secretary Luistro for a detailed summary of where exactly are these supposed classrooms, who are the beneficiaries and from where and what physical proof does he have that these actually exist," the lawmaker added.

Romualdez also stressed that his bloc will spearhead moves for an immediate audit by private sector auditors of the funds for the repair, rehabilitation or construction of classrooms damaged or destroyed by Yolanda.

"The serious damage to school buildings and classrooms had been visible right after Yolanda left Leyte and other affected provinces," said the Leyte lawmaker. (Sunnex)