OFWs, corporations, and other groups and individuals have donated more than P51 million to the classroom project to help address the need for at least 12,000 rooms, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) today said.

This developed as Labor and Employment Secretary Patricia A. Sto. Tomas hailed the Filipino Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Inc. (FFCCCII) for its active role in helping to alleviate classroom shortage via the Classroom Galing sa Mamamayang Pilipino Abroad (CGMA) project.

The labor and employment chief said that as of December 31 last year, more than P51 million in donations by OFWs, corporate, and philanthropic donors worldwide have been received by the DOLE’s CGMA Program for the construction of 250 classrooms.

Some 105 of these classrooms have been finished, Labor Undersecretary for Labor Relations and CGMA Program Focal Person Manuel G. Imson said, adding their construction was supervised mainly by the FFCCCII and its local chapters in various regions.

Imson said that the efforts of the FFCCCII and the other CGMA Program partners “lend justice to the wishes of the OFWs and other donors to uplift the Filipino human resource based on the sound and ethical management pillars upon which the endeavor stands.” The Labor Relations Undersecretary also said that on top of assisting the CGMA project, the FFCCCII is helping in the employment of Filipino workers via its participation in job fairs nationwide.

On top of the FFCCCII, the other co-partners of the DOLE in the CGMA Program are the Departments of Education (DepEd), and Foreign Affairs (DFA).

“We would also like to cite the various American, Japanese, European, Middle Eastern, and other philanthropic organizations and employers of OFWs, along with Filipino communities overseas, for their donations to the DOLE’s Donate-A-Classroom program,” Imson said.

DOLE CGMA Project Manager Elena L. Calingasan said that on top of supervising classroom construction employing local labor, the FFCCCII has also taken the “extra mile” of donating classrooms and desks needed by high school students and elementary school pupils in various CGMA recipient schools.

Calingasan said that the recipients of the classrooms so far completed and turned over under the CGMA program include the following high schools and elementary schools nationwide:

(The NCR) Tala High School, Rizal Experimental School & Pilot School of Cottage Industry (RESPSCI), Camarin D Elementary School, Tangos 1 Elementary School; (CAR) Hapid National High School, Baguio Nat’l High School; (Region 3) Bulac Nat’l High School, Capas Nat’l High School, Sto. Domingo Elem. School, Marcelo H. Del Pilar High School, Dau Central Elem. School, San Nicolas Elem. School, Cabcaben Elem. School, Sta. Isabel Elem. School, Aliaga Nat’l High School, Lagundi Elem. School, Bunducan Elem. School; (Region 4A) Naic Nat’l High School, Isabang Elem. School, Baclaran Elem. School (Cabuyao, Laguna), Biñan Nat’l High School, Paaralang Pag-Ibig at Pag-Asa,

San Lucas II Elem. School, San Pedro Nat’l High School, Bagbag Elem. School; (Region 4B) Bulbugan Nat’l High School; (Region 5) Gubat Nat’l High School; (Region 6) Victorias Nat’l High School, Education and Training Center School III, Jamindan Nat’l High School, Serafin Golez Primary School; (Region 7) Mohon Elem. School, Dumanjug Nat’l High School; (Region 12) Poblacion Polomolok Nat’l High School, Kamanga Elem. School, Koronadal NCHS, Dalipe Elem. School, Inug-ug Elem. School; (Caraga) Cagniog Elem. School, and Silad Elem. School.

Based on the data from the Department of Education, a total of 7,835 classrooms are immediately needed — 5,191 for the elementary schools and another 2,194 for the public schools. The total cost is estimated at P3.32 billion.

But the classroom shortage is actually a lot more acute. Assuming that each class of 50 pupils will have a classroom, the country’s public elementary schools should at least have a total of 43,737 classrooms for its 2,186,874 pupils. The actual number of classrooms is only 26,695 or a shortage of 17,042 classrooms.

More is needed for the public high schools where total enrolment now stands at 3,202,757. The country’s public high school system has a total of 41,039 classrooms, whereas the ideal, at 50 students per class, should be 64,055 classrooms.

The public school system, therefore, needs over 40,000 more classrooms. Given CGMA’s ballpark cost of US$4,000 per classroom, at least $160 million — or close to P9 billion — would be needed to meet this shortage.

Sto. Tomas said the P9 billion actually equates with the remittances of overseas Filipino workers from one major economy alone — Singapore, which prefers skilled OFWs and maintains a vibrant economic linkage with the Philippines — and where OFWs accounted for around P8.7 billion in inward remittances in the first eleven months of 2004. She said that viewed in the total angle, the amount would constitute a mere two percent of the more than US$8 billion average annual remittances of OFWs.

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