Grade VI teacher Mr. Lowie Barrel of Catarman 1 Elementary School (C1ES) in Northern Samar attributed the increased class participation of his students to the nine (9) new classrooms built under the partnership between the BEST Program and the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP).

Mr. Lowie Barrel, Grade VI teacher of Catarman 1 Elementary School (C1ES) in Northern Samar, shows the completed classrooms supported by BEST and PBSP. C1ES’ nine new classrooms are among the 266 classrooms completed in most vulnerable areas as of December 2017.

“Our students are now much more eager to attend classes because of the more spacious classrooms we have,” Mr. Barrel said, adding that every teacher in their school can have more time to address each learner’s needs because their classrooms are now decongested.

C1ES is among the 165 public schools nationwide that received support from BEST Program’s classroom construction component. This was in response to DepEd’s call for support earlier to build new classrooms to address the increasing classroom gap brought about by ageing school buildings, increasing student population, additional needs for Senior High School and replacement of buildings damaged by calamities.

According to Mr. Barrel, conducive classrooms could be among the reasons his students keep bringing home more victories from division, regional and national competitions.

“Just recently, our pupils won in the Metrobank-MTAP-DepEd Math Challenge. Also last January, we won at the division’s Science Fair while getting third place for the Science Investigatory Category in national level, then another fifth place for the mathematics category.

This partnership with PBSP, which extended beyond the BEST regions including the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and those damaged by Typhoon Bopha in 2012,  has reduced classroom congestion in selected localities, particularly in areas that had lost classrooms due to typhoon damage.  

The new classrooms enabled the recipient schools to accept additional enrollees.  Existing classrooms were also decongested so that less classes were conducted in temporary, unconducive and possibly unsafe learning spaces.  It was expected that these will contribute to enhancing enrolment, participation and retention rates in the assisted schools.

In addition, since this program was also intended to replace the school buildings that were destroyed by typhoons—Typhoon Bopha (local name: Pablo) when the program was developed and Typhoon Haiyan (local name: Yolanda) when the program was expanded—the building incorporated disaster resiliency features making the school building more resistant to various natural disasters.

The classrooms are also made compliant to DFAT’s cross-cutting principles of gender sensitivity by putting two toilets per classrooms so that the boys and girls will have separate toilets. They are also designed to be disability inclusive with features addressing the needs of persons with disabilities (PWDs). Each of the schools buildings were provided rainwater catchment to provide water for washing and for the toilets.  Each classroom was also furnished with 45 armchairs, 5 of which were left-handed armchairs, for students and a set of table and chair for the teacher.

A total of 288 classrooms was targeted to be built by the program in places and schools where it is most needed in BEST regions.  Of these, 266 classrooms were completed as of this writing and the construction of 82 classrooms were ongoing.

The benefits of having new BEST-assisted classrooms can go beyond enabling comfort in a new learning environment. Owing to their new classroom structures, some schools have received various recognitions for having modern classrooms in their midst. Mr. Barrel believed that a major reason they were awarded as Best Implementing School for a recent Brigada Eskwela was their ability to undertake more activities and mobilize resources including the completion of the BEST-PBSP classrooms. (With a report from PBSP)