March 3, 2021- To ensure disaster risk reduction in schools, Department of Education (DepEd) Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones acknowledged the need for reevaluation of building designs before constructing new classrooms to address its shortage in the country.
During the virtual visit of Secretary Briones in DepEd Region 1, she mentioned the importance of looking at details in the building designs. “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,” Briones voiced noting that just building these structures should always consider the ability to withstand strong winds, earthquakes and super typhoons.
Secretary Briones speak that while there are new school buildings every year, it is not enough to measure efforts on addressing classroom shortages in the country. Proper reevaluation of building design is needed to lessen the yearly destruction of school buildings due to calamities
In addition, Briones pronounced that the reevaluation of school building designs should also consider the need to comply with the new normal guidelines set by the Department of Health (DOH).
According to Briones,
“We should also consider the DOH guidelines for number of students in a classroom, taking note of size of classroom and distancing for students. We are now having an ongoing conversation on these building requirements.”
Briones also reminds the public that the construction of school buildings is not DepEd’s sole responsibility but is also in collaboration with the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).
In this connection, Undersecretary for Administration Alain Del Pascua suggested the transferring of the implementation of the School Building Program (SBP) from DPWH to DepEd to accelerate the construction of classrooms around the country.
“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,” Usec. Pascua mentioned.
He further pointed out that DepEd successfully implemented local- and foreign-assisted school building projects in the past through the Principal-led Scheme of School Building Construction.
“The scheme provided a greater sense of project ownership by the school and the community, which strengthened project monitoring, resulting in high integrity and quality completed project,” Pascua said, adding the scheme was cited for “Best Practice Award by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) in 2008.
The classroom requirements for 2020 is 242,603 classrooms. This figure accounts for 110,954 classroom shortages, 85,524 replacements of classrooms scheduled for condemnation/demolition, and 46,125 classrooms for the Last Mile Schools.
To address the classroom shortage in the next three years, DepEd proposed to lawmakers to allocate Php 333 billion for 2021, Php 374 billion for 2022, and Php 374 billion for 2023.
Moreover, DepEd recently issued the Re-Establishment of Minimum Performance Standards and Specifications (MPSS) using the Alternative Construction Materials for School Buildings.
In Department Order No. 006 s. 2021, the MPSS aims to drive the construction of well-designed buildings that considers anthropometrics, ergonomics, thermal comfort, illumination, ventilation, acoustics, and color; and that are compliant with the law.
The Department wants to ensure that school buildings for the succeeding years could withstand wind velocity up to 340 kilometers per hour and could resist 0.4 up to 8.0 magnitude of an earthquake.
The designers, meanwhile, must consider the Sanitary and Plumbing Standards, including the provisions of toilets and sanitary facilities under the Plumbing Code and the Sanitary Code of the Philippines.
The Education Facilities Division (EFD) of the Department, together with the Regional and Division Office, shall be in charge of the monitoring of the construction and the evaluation of the building using the alternative construction materials approved by the Central Office.
Details from DepEd Public Affairs
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TEACHER-SOLON CALLS FOR RELEASE OF DETAINED TUTOR
March 2, 2021 -Assistant Minority Leader and ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro demanded the release of Teacher Rochelle Porcadilla, one of the volunteer teachers in Cebu who was arrested recently. Porcadilla was reportedly taken from the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) to Police Regional Office-7 (PRO 7) under the orders of Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Debold Sinas without informing her relatives and lawyers.
According to reports from Save Our Schools Network Cebu, Porcadilla was taken from her detention center at the Cebu City Police Office to be brought to the PRO 7 without knowledge of her relatives or her legal counsel, under orders of Sinas.
When SOS Network members arrived at the PRO-7, she was not there and was told that Col. Robert Limbawan took her. Upon returning to the CCPO, Porcadilla was still not there. Porcadilla is a Mindanao Interfaith Service Foundation, Inc. (MISFI) scholar and a graduate of BS Education major in English.
After graduating in 2019, she was assigned to teach at MISFI Salaysay Campus by June in the same year. She then decided to join her Lumad students to Cebu to help them continue with their education where she was arrested along with 6 others by combined police and military forces.
“We vehemently condemn the continuing harassment against the already arrested volunteer Lumad teachers of the bakwit school in Cebu. We demand Teacher Rochelle be released immediately. They were arrested on trumped-up cases for being volunteer teachers of the Lumad school and have been victims of continuous red-tagging by the Duterte administration,” Castro said.
“Further, the PNP continues to spread lies by saying that the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) does not represent her despite signing the Request for Preliminary Investigation and Waiver of Article 125 of the RPC confirming that the NUPL-Cebu will represent her. The PNP cannot speak to Teacher Rochelle without the presence of her counsel. These are clear violations of her rights,” Castro stated.
“It is the state security forces who have been terrorizing the Lumad community, still it is the Lumad people who are only trying to educate themselves, ensure that their right to education is respected and protect their ancestral lands are the ones targeted by the police and military, their teachers and leaders tagged as enemies of the state.”
“Lumad schools have long been red-tagged by the state. Indigenous peoples and their leaders are victims of state terrorism. Their ancestral land and basic human rights are continuously violated with the harassment and threats they receive every day. Their school sites in Mindanao destroyed, their school heads, teachers and leaders arrested and or killed. Just like what the state is doing to the University of the Philippines and other red-tagged schools, Lumad students and teachers have long been accused of teaching and recruiting rebels,” Castro added.
“We demand the immediate release of Teacher Rochelle Porcadilla, Teacher Chad Booc and 7 other Lumad students and elders who are still detained from the military and police raid that took place inside the University of San Carlos in Cebu.
The Lumad had no choice but to set up bakwit schools and seek refuge in Universities because of the continuing militarization of their ancestral lands. We continue to call on the Filipino people to join the struggle for just and lasting peace against the Duterte administration’s state terrorism,” Castro concluded. By MARVYN N. BENANING
TEACHERS MUST HAVE CHOICE ON COVID VACCINES-LAWMAKER By MARVYN N. BENANING
Assistant Minority Leader and ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro has scored the Department of Education (DepEd) for insisting teachers will have no choice but to be inoculated with the Chinese COVID-19 vaccines preferred by the Duterte regime if they wish to handle face-to-face classes.
Castro explained teachers have the right to get the vaccine of their choice and the Duterte administration has business imposing Chinese vaccines on teachers, or any Filipino citizen for that matter, and compelling them to be injected with a vaccine they believe to be less efficacious is bad policy and must not be a requisite for the return to face-to-face classes.
During a Senate hearing for the Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture, DepEd Undersecretary Nepomuceno Malaluan said that vaccination will not be a “matter of choice” for teachers if it would be part of the protocol for face-to-face classes.
“Getting any kind of vaccine or any kind of medical procedure should be a matter of choice for everyone. We caution the DepEd in their statement saying teachers might not get a choice when it comes to getting vaccinated against COVID-19 if it becomes a part of the protocol for face-to-face classes,” Castro said.
“DepEd and the Duterte administration should instead ensure that teachers would get higher priority in the vaccination plan and make sure that what they would offer to teachers is a free, efficacious and safe vaccine to let our teachers gain trust in the vaccines. Piliiin ang bakuna na may magandang reputasyon, upang tumaas ang kumpyansa ng mga guro dito at maiwasan ang pagdadalawang-isip.”
“It is very alarming to note that there is poor public confidence in the Duterte administration’s vaccination plan, especially with its lack of transparency and its priority for inflicting a Chinese vaccine with the lowest efficacy. This opaque policy is consistent with the black hole that sits rent-free in the heads of those who willy-nilly mismanage the pandemic,” Castro added.
“It is the government’s responsibility and mandate to provide the people the safest and most cost-efficient vaccine. With COVID-19 vaccines starting to be made available, this administration must ensure that those who need it will be able to get it. Government should be able to secure enough vaccines to be able to vaccinate all those who need it, including education frontliners,” Castro said.
“Giving priority to vaccinate education frontliners should not remove their right to choose which vaccine they will opt to get if they choose to be vaccinated.”
“Having vaccines should not even be a prerequisite for having face to face classes,” Castro noted. “There are already studies and recommendations by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), UNICEF and proposals from the Philippine Pediatric Society (PPS) on how to safely reopen schools to conduct face-to-face classes amid the pandemic and even without the vaccine.”
“We caution the DepEd not to prejudice the employment and benefits of teachers who would opt not to get vaccinated. The DepEd should not settle for a haphazard, unsafe and burdensome implementation of face-to-face classes, it must exhaust all its time, resources and efforts to set up the policies, facilities and equip teachers and students for the face to face classes amid the COVID-19 pandemic,” Castro concluded.