Sunday, October 23, 2011

68,000 classrooms needed; TEN Moves go for 10,000 units

“Plan No. 1.--This building contains one unit, 7 meters by 9 meters. It provides classroom space for approximately 50 pupils. It is suitable for construction in the smaller barrios. Future additions to this building cannot be made without seriously interfering with the original structure. This type of building has been constructed for P2,100 [around US$1,000].

“Plan No. 3.--This building contains three units and provides classroom space for approximately 150 pupils. The units are so arranged that two additional classrooms may be constructed at the rear or front of the building, thus forming a complete structure of five classrooms. This building is suitable for central barrios where the attendance will, in all probability, not exceed 250 pupils. This type of building has been constructed for P6,000 [around US$3,000].”  -- Bulletin No. 37-1912.
The Philippines department of education (DepEd) recently launched in San Francisco, California its TEN Moves (short for ‘The Entire Nation Moves’) project to attract US-based Filipinos and other nationals to support the construction of 10,000 classrooms, which is estimated to cost Php600,000 (US$14,000) each.

The DepEd strategy aims to raise some PhP6-billion (US$140M)  from two million supporters, which means each donor contributing Php3,000 (US$70) each.

This partially addresses the need for 68,000 classrooms for students going into the 10-year basic schooling from kindergarten to junior high school.   Current budget is reported to be sufficient only for the construction of 58,000 units.

“Plan No. 2.--This building contains two units and provides classroom space for approximately 100 pupils. It is suitable for larger barrios, but should not be authorized in places where future additions are contemplated, as this cannot be done without seriously affecting the general construction. This type of building has been constructed for P4,100 [around US$2,000].

“Plan No. 10.-This provides for six classrooms and an assembly room with storeroom and office. The assembly room occupies space equivalent to three classrooms. This type of building is suitable for large central schools and is recommended for large growing towns. It has been constructed for P18,000 [US$9,000].” -- Bulletin No. 37-1912.

TEN Moves is a private sector initiative, part of the bigger Bayanihang Pampaaralan campaign of the 57-75 Education Reform Movement, which is an alliance of the Ateneo Center for Educational Development (ACED), Foundation for Worldwide People Power (FWWPP), League of Corporate Foundations (LCF), Philippine Business for Education (PBEd), Philippine Business for Social Progress ((PBSP), and Synergeia Foundation (Synergeia).

The reverse-image 57-75 speaks of the mission of the alliance-- “to reverse the educational crisis.”  The number 57 reflects the current state of affairs of the Philippine public education system being the national average score in percentage points in the National Achievement Test (NAT) of public elementary school pupils.  The reverse image 75 is target passing mark within the next five years.

It’s not only the perennial shortage of classrooms that has to be addressed though to turn 57 around to 75.   There are other needs as well like blackboards, desks, and salaries for teachers.  And even sanitation facilities!

“Plan No. 6.--This plan provides for foul classrooms and an assembly room equivalent to two units. It is suitable for the ordinary central school where office room and storeroom space may be provided outside of the buildings. This type of building has been constructed for P10,500 [around US$5,200].

“Plan No. 7.--This plan is similar to No. 6 but has provisions for a larger assembly room, equivalent in space to three units, and containing a storeroom and an office room. This building is considered more serviceable than Plan No. 6 and is recommended in all cases where sufficient funds are available and where the average attendance will exceed 400 pupils. This type of building has been constructed for P12,500 [around US$6,200].

“Plan No. 8 provides for a special building designed for use in connection with shop work. It should be constructed in connection with large intermediate schools or provincial schools of less importance. This type of building has been constructed for P15,000 [around US$7,500].” – Bulletin No. 37-1912.

We’d like to think that Ten Moves considered the seismic and climate threats in the design and construction of the “brick-and-mortar” classrooms, which we read as “concrete” buildings, the same critical elements that were deemed significant in the design of standard school buildings a century ago. 

“In the Philippines,” said the Bureau of Education Bulletin No. 37-1912, “a building to be permanent must be prepared to withstand earthquakes and severe storms, and resist the ravages of insect pests. White ants alone have destroyed buildings worth thousands of pesos. Only the best timber, stone, or concrete will resist them.”  It did not say anything about floods though.  There could have been minor floods in some parts of Manila and major towns but these were not as life-threatening as we know of them today to cause suspension of classes when heavy rains occur.

Back then, the Bureau of Education faced “the threefold problem of organizing the schools, training a corps of Filipino teachers, and providing them with the buildings essential to their success.”  The American administrators inherited from the Spaniards predominantly “temporary structures, poorly built and of perishable materials. The best of these were great oblong buildings of stone, with earth floors, roofs of grass or tile, low eaves, and deep-set, heavily barred windows. They were usually damp and poorly ventilated. “

“Plan No. 20.--This plan provides for a twenty-room building, the largest of the series. It should be constructed in provincial capitals and large growing towns where the needs of the schools require a large number of classrooms. It is essentially Plan No. 7 with additions and changes in a few minor details which make it superior to Plan No. 7. It is advisable to authorize a part of this building to be constructed in all places needing a school building larger than Plan No. 7 for the reason that this offers the best structure, if additions are contemplated at any time in the future.” – Bulletin No. 37-1912

Then as it is now, the “need of buildings was so pressing, and the funds available locally, whether provincial or municipal, were so limited that it was impossible for the local authorities to effect the construction of permanent school buildings unaided.”  The Insular Government infused capital funds for school buildings through legislative action starting with Php350,000 [around US$175,000] in 1904 and by 1911, it had appropriated a total of Php4,149,000 [around US$2.075M] including the Php1,000,000 [around US$500,000] for primary schools provided for by the Gabaldon Law of 1907.

The standard schoolhouses built a century ago were of concrete re-enforced with steel in “combination with timbers of superior quality for roof trusses, floors, and partitions, and galvanized iron for roofing.”

The unit system of construction had the standard classroom size of 7 by 9 meters.  “[The] classrooms are so arranged in the plans that additions may be made at a minimum cost and without prejudice to the original structure. In Plan No. 6 and those for larger buildings, provision is made for an assembly room. These buildings are enlarged by adding units at the rear of the original building on both sides of the assembly room, forming a continuous row of classrooms on either side. These additions may be extended almost indefinitely without injury to the original structure and without interfering with the lighting or ventilation of any of the classrooms. The largest building of this kind at present contemplated is a twenty-room building containing two wings, each having six classrooms in addition to the large assembly room connecting these in front, and four additional classrooms in the rear, which completes the quadrangle, thus forming an open court within the structure. This court is faced by porches or open corridors from which doors lead into the various classrooms.”

The Plans were numbered 1 (the unit building) to 14, and 20 (see pictures with descriptive captions). Plan No.12, which is not shown here was a special designed for trade schools in the provinces.

Plans No. 4 and 5 were abandoned, and the use of Plans No. 9, 11, 13 and 14 were discontinued.

The classroom sizes may have evolved through the years to accommodate more students and the introduction of technologies for teaching like audio-visual equipment and computers. 

The TEN Moves classrooms may well be standard school houses of 1912 re-configured to withstand the risks of fire and floodwater, to be adaptable to modern teaching tools, and to accommodate increases in class sizes.


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