/ 4 March 2021

EDUCATION Secretary Leonor Briones stressed the need to evaluate school buildings to determine if these can withstand calamities.

Briones said a school building’s design should be evaluated particularly if there’s a plan to add more classrooms.

“Perhaps the building designs need to be improved, so that during calamities such as earthquakes and typhoons, the school buildings are much more secure, rather than these past calamities where many of our classrooms were immediately toppled and destroyed,” she pointed out.

The education chief added that in the construction of schools, their capacity to withstand strong winds, earthquakes and super typhoons must be considered.

Briones said the re-evaluation of buildings is needed to reduce the damage wrought on schools when strong typhoons hit.

Also, the design of school buildings should comply with the requirements for the “new normal,” Briones said.

“We should also consider the Department of Health’s guidelines for number of students in a classroom, taking note of the size of classrooms and distancing for students. We are now having an ongoing conversation on these building requirements,” she said.

DepEd Undersecretary Alain Del Pascua suggested that the implementation of the School Building Program be transferred from the Department of Public Works and Highways to DepEd to accelerate the construction of classrooms.

“DepEd has a bigger stake and more concern over these projects, making it the better agency to work out the immediate implementation and completion of school buildings,” Pascua said.

In 2020, the classroom requirement was 242,603. This figure accounts for 110,954 classroom shortages, 85,524 replacements, and 46,125 classrooms for the Last Mile Schools.

To address the classroom shortage in the next three years, DepEd asked Congress to allocate P333 billion for 2021, P374 billion for 2022, and P374 billion for 2023.

The DepEd recently issued new specifications for school buildings that consider anthropometrics, ergonomics, thermal comfort, illumination, ventilation, acoustics, and color.

The department wants to ensure that school buildings could withstand wind velocity up to 340 kilometers per hour and could resist powerful earthquakes.