The Department of Education (DepEd) said Tuesday that the cutting of the agency’s budget to produce more classrooms will undermine its effort to lower the number of students per classroom to an appropriate level. 

In the agency’s statement, DepEd praised President Rodrigo Duterte and lawmakers for the punctual signing of the 2020 national budget, but highlighted the reduced funding for a central program. 

“The decrease in funding for the Basic Education Inputs program, particularly for the new construction of school buildings, is a huge challenge to the department,” DepEd said. 

“It will adversely affect the programming of a lower classroom-to-student ratio for the coming school years,” it added.

According to Rep. France Castro, there was a classroom shortage of 34,000 as of September 2019. 

DepEd budget sponsor Rep. Corazon Nuñez-Malanyaon then requested funding for the building of 64,000 classrooms, although the 2019  budget only allowed them to construct 28,170. 

Upon the coordination with the Department of Budget and Management, Finance Undersecretary Annalyn Sevilla said that the DepEd would receive P520.28 billion this 2020.

Teacher-student ratio

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Large class sizes and classroom shortages have been the consistently major problems of public schools in the country for years. 

However, DepEd had been able to improve the figures, noting the 1:29 (teacher-students) ratio per classroom in the 2018-2019 school year of respectively junior and senior high school (SHS) classes. 

That ratio in 2019 was 1:35; 1:33 in 2017 for elementary students; 1:43 for high school students and 1:36 in 2017.

However, the result from the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) to K-12 program showed that Filipino students underperformed. For that reason, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which administered PISA, said that there is no consensus on what best ratio is for teacher-student in a classroom. 

However, the agency agreed that younger students need more interaction with teachers to perform better. 

“But there is wide agreement that younger children need more time and interaction with teachers for a quality education.” 

“There is also some evidence showing that smaller classes may benefit students from disadvantaged backgrounds,” the OECD added.

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