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.
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!
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. “
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.
- Bureau of Education. (1912). Bulletin No. 37—1912. School buildings and grounds. Manila: Bureau of Printing. Retrieved from http://name.umdl.umich.edu/acp1028.1912.037
- Reporter not named. (2011, Oct 08). Department of Education Initiative to Raise Funds for Classrooms. Inquirer.net. Retrieved from http://globalnation.inquirer.net/14913/department-of-education-initiative-to-raise-funds-for-classrooms
- Ronda, Rainier Allan Ronda. (2011, Oct 22). DepEd to end classroom shortage by 2014. Philippine Star Online at Philstar.com. Retrieved from http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleId=739987&publicationSubCategoryId=63