P10-B funding for PAGCOR's school building project

Friday | April 17, 2015 | 2:30 PM

P10-B funding for PAGCOR's school building project
PAGCOR Chairman and CEO Cristino Naguiat, Jr. led the turn-over of actual classroom keys to Tarlac National High School (TNHS) Principal Dr. Yolanda Gonzales and Tarlac Governor Victor Yap on April 17, 2015 at the TNHS main campus. The event was witnessed by President Benigno S. Aquino III (3rd from right), DPWH Secretary Rogelio Singson (extreme left) and DepEd Secretary Armin Luistro (3rd from left). TNHS received two units of 3-storey, 15-classroom building from the “Matuwid na Daan sa Silid-Aralan Project”, a collaborative effort of PAGCOR, DPWH and DepEd.

The Aquino government’s campaign to provide more classrooms in public schools nationwide got another big boost from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) as the agency allocated an additional P3 billion funding for its “Matuwid na Daan sa Silid-Aralan” project. This brought PAGCOR’s total funding for its school building program to a staggering P10 billion.

PAGCOR’s release of the P3 billion additional funding to the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) was witnessed by no less than President Benigno Simeon Aquino III. The event coincided with the inauguration and formal turn-over of two new school buildings at the Tarlac National High School in Tarlac City on April 17, 2015.

PAGCOR Chairman and CEO Cristino Naguiat, Jr. said the additional funding will ensure that more public schools in far-flung communities will have new classrooms. “We embarked on this project almost five years ago bearing in mind President Aquino’s directive to us to help address the basic problems of the education sector like the lack of classrooms. The P10 billion allocation for the school building project is the biggest funding ever provided by our agency for a single project in PAGCOR’s history,” he said.

It is only under the leadership of Chairman Naguiat that PAGCOR took on a huge commitment to build thousands of classrooms to benefit a myriad of students. Unlike the previous PAGCOR management which did not build a single learning facility, Naguiat’s administration prioritized programs that greatly improve the learning conditions of public school children.

“This is our biggest legacy to the Filipino youth, to provide a comfortable and healthy environment that will encourage students to study even more. We will continue to do our share with the valuable help of DepEd and DPWH,” Naguiat added.

Under the school building program, the DepEd identifies the public schools which are in need of new classrooms while the DPWH handles the construction of these classrooms.

Out of almost 4,500 classrooms being built under the first P7 billion funding, about 1,124 in 239 sites had been completed, while the rest are under construction. To date, PAGCOR’s school building project has reached even far-flung communities across the country, including Tawi-tawi, Sultan Kudarat, Cotabato, Lanao del Sur, Catanduanes, Palawan, Bukidnon, Masbate, Compostela Valley, and Bogo City and Bantayan Island in Cebu.

Close to 1,300 typhoon-resilient classrooms, meanwhile, are being constructed in over 300 sites in Yolanda devastated areas. The classrooms, which can cost up to P1.6 million each, are more expensive compared to typical classrooms because they are designed to withstand strong typhoons and floods. Building the classrooms in far-flung areas would also entail bigger cost because the materials need to be transported to these remote communities.

Unlike many old learning facilities, the PAGCOR-funded classrooms are more spacious. Each classroom measures 7 x 9 meters which is bigger compared to the typical 6 x 7 meters to 7 x 8 meters classrooms. The PAGCOR classrooms also have higher ceilings and are elevated. They can accommodate up to 60 students with still ample space to move around. Other major features of the PAGCOR buildings include storage rooms, a stage, walkway and wheelchair access for disabled students. For multi-storey buildings, separate comfort rooms for boys and girls are provided. The school buildings funded by the agency also have a concrete gutter with parafet and an iconic architectural design that would easily distinguish it as PAGCOR’s.

DPWH Secretary Rogelio Singson said the additional classrooms that will be constructed using the extra P3 billion funding from PAGCOR will augment the classroom requirements for K to 12. “Since multi-storey buildings ang mga tinatayo, they are ideal for higher years (senior high school). Magaganda ang design ng PAGCOR school buildings kaya marami ang pumupuri dito,” he added.

During the turn-over of the additional P3 billion funding for PAGCOR’s school building project, President Aquino also inaugurated the 30 new classrooms (composed of two units of 3-storey, 15-classroom buildings) donated by the government to Tarlac National High School (TNHS) main and its annex in Tarlac City on April 17, 2015.

President Aquino was joined by Chairman Naguiat, DepEd Secretary Bro. Armin Luistro, DPWH Secretary Rogelio Singson, and TESDA Secretary Joel Villanueva. Local government officials also joined the President in turning over the classrooms to the 112-year old school, which is reputed to be the oldest public high school in the country and the biggest in Region 3 in terms of area and student population.

The 30 new classrooms would help decongest the overpopulated school, which currently has a population of roughly 10,000 students.

School Principal Dr. Yolanda Gonzales thanked PAGCOR for providing their students with more improved school facilities. “No doubt, these school buildings would be essential in ensuring our students’ quality education as they now have additional classrooms that are ideal for learning. Maraming, maraming salamat po sa PAGCOR sa pagtugon sa aming pangangailangan para sa karagdagang mga silid-aralan,” she said.

In the province of Tarlac alone, PAGCOR has built 88 classrooms in 12 sites while 48 in six sites are under construction.

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