Gatchalian bats for inclusion of DepEd’s Last Mile Schools program in govt’s Build, Build, Build infra program

Senator Win Gatchalian is calling on the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to include the Department of Education's Last Mile Schools program in the administration's Build, Build, Build infrastructure program.

According to DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones, the Last Mile Schools program is an initiative of the DepEd conceived to provide students living in Geographically Isolated, Disadvantaged and Con?ict-Affected (GIDCA) areas with unhampered and equal access to quality basic education.

"Access to quality basic education is the right of every Filipino and I am glad that the DepEd, under the leadership of Secretary Briones, is giving priority to the schools that have otherwise been neglected or fallen behind their urban counterparts," Gatchalian, the presumptive chair of the Senate Committee on Basic Education and Culture, said.

"But in order for the program to succeed, mukhang kailangan nating mag-infuse dito ng malawakang suporta, and one way to do this is to have the Last Mile Schools program become part of the Build, Build, Build program," the lawmaker added.

In her recent briefing with Gatchalian, Briones said Last Mile Schools are those have that less than four classrooms, with makeshift or nonstandard rooms, have no electricity, or have not been allocated funds for repairs or new construction projects in the last four year. They also have a student population of less than 100 learners, more than 75 percent of which are usually indigenous people.

Moreover, these schools also lack complete sets of school furniture; have no computers, no internet connection, and very few textbooks and manuals; or lack laboratory tools and equipment.

Some P92 billion is needed to fund the construction and improvement of about 8,000 Last Miles schools over the next three years, according to DepEd.

Gatchalian said this was a paltry amount compared to the original P8.4 trillion cost of the Build, Build, Build spread over the six years of the Duterte administration.

"Given that the DepEd has already pledged to prioritize the Last Miles Schools program and also given that DepEd is already working with the DPWH to open access roads for the convenience of the students, I see no reason why the program should not be part and parcel of Build, Build, Build," Gatchalian added.

Source: Senate of the Philippines