More libraries needed, says lawmaker

He proposed that the government take a ‘remedial measure’ by including a P5.91 billion boost in the DepEd’s new buildings fund in next year’s proposed national budget.

September 12, 2022

House Deputy Speaker and Batangas Representative Ralph Recto on Sunday is calling on the government to continue building school libraries again to help pupils improve their reading comprehension.

This comes after reports surfaced that the Philippines scored the lowest in reading comprehension among 79 participating countries and economies in the 2018 Programme for International Student Assessment.

“We should end the moratorium in building new libraries. A school without one is like a swimming pool without water,” said Recto, adding that the national budget had long since forgotten about library development as a distinct program with specific funding.

To recall, the government in 2006allocated P120 million to build 60 library hubs and 12 big learning resource centers, according to the former senator. The program was still highlighted in the 2014 budget of the Department of Education but was no longer in the years that followed.

To prevent this, he proposed that the government take a “remedial measure” by including a P5.91 billion boost in the DepEd’s new buildings fund in next year’s proposed national budget.

“If it is true that 900,000 enrollees are newly transferred from private to public schools, that’s already 22,500 extra rooms needed,” said the lawmaker, noting that only 2,379 new classrooms can be built using DepEd’s suggested spending plan.

“Let’s allocate funds for libraries in the 2023 budget. It’s time to turn the page and reverse the neglect of this vital school facility,” he added.

Due to school closures, the pandemic worsened the nation’s “learning poverty,” which the United Nations Children’s Fund assessed to be with less than 15 percent of schoolchildren able to read simple texts.

The veteran lawmaker pointed out that this should spur everyone to step up efforts to encourage pupils to read and develop a fondness for books that not only enlighten but also help young minds develop a more in-depth understanding of science, mathematics, economics, and other subjects.

“Let’s make sure that our young people will fall in love with books. And building book depots and reading centers could be the start of their beautiful relationship with reading,” Recto said. “If we want our kids to read, read, read, we should build, build, build libraries.”


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