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DepEd Construction of High-Rise School Buildings: A Solution to the Problem of Classroom Shortage in Mega Cities

Attached is an Aide Memoire from DepEd Undersecretary Alain Del B. Pascua on the Construction of High-Rise School Buildings: A Solution to the Problem of Classroom Shortage in Mega Cities.


The Department of Education (DepEd) has analyzed the classroom requirements based on the latest classroom inventory and enrollment data of schools along with the standard parameters for the computation of requirements by the DepEd Planning Service. To date, a total of 123,994 classrooms are still needed to be constructed in all public elementary and secondary schools with remaining classroom requirements. As shown in the table below, Region IV-A (CALABARZON), National Capital Region (NCR), Region III (Central Luzon), and Region VII (Central Visayas) are the top regions with the highest classroom shortages.

Figure 1. Instructional Rooms, Enrollment, and Shortage per Region
Grand Total730,38922,707,421123,994
Table 1. Instructional Rooms, Enrollment, and Shortage per Region

The top regions mentioned above have the most cities or municipalities that are classified as highly urbanized. These areas have large populations mainly due to being sites of business centers in the country where employment or business opportunities are high, and therefore where many people choose to reside. This is the reason why the school-age population is also high in these areas, resulting in high enrollment rates in schools within their scope.

Figure 2. Classroom shortage per City in NCR

The graph above and the table below shows the distribution of the classroom shortage in NCR and Region IV-A. As shown in the tables, Taguig and Rizal have the highest number of classroom shortages in NCR and Region IV-A respectively.

Caloocan City5,844268,7631,377
Valenzuela City2,125120,5451,164
Quezon City11,282409,0491,154
Paranaque City1,849104,1621,092
Muntinlupa City1,44880,391700
Malabon City1,47874,068579
Las Pinas City2,12199,767530
Makati City1,61977,582526
Pasig City3,618136,969488
Pasay City1,73762,369372
Marikina City2,14781,433261
City of San Juan34212,256125
Mandaluyong City1,77256,37881
Table 2. Classroom shortage per City in Region IV-A
Antipolo City2,276165,7282,047
Dasmarinas City1,970115,5811,210
Calamba City2,021100,318770
General Trias City1,16269,253587
Imus City1,53080,486587
Bacoor City2,06889,294469
Sta. Rosa City1,15057,495436
Binan City1,52058,759306
Lipa City2,46871,409292
San Pablo City1,55957,629288
Cabuyao City1,26257,269260
Lucena City1,28652,974224
Batangas City2,10459,357180
Tayabas City70621,301131
Tanauan City1,14239,102104
Cavite City59017,71178
Table 3. Classroom shortage per City in Region IV-A
Classroom shortage per City in Region IV-A
Figure 3. Classroom shortage per City in Region IV-A

Recently, neighboring regions of the National Capital Region (NCR) were made into relocation areas. Displaced families from places where infrastructure developments are ongoing were moved to identified relocation areas in Regions III and IV-A, contributing to an increase in the school-age population in the said regions.

Schools from these areas have become congested as their existing facilities are no longer sufficient to cover the increasing requirements of the growing population of learners. Another challenge is that even if the national government has been prioritizing the construction of school buildings in its annual budget, the limited or lack of buildable space in schools located in these highly urbanized areas has not allowed the programming and construction of school building projects.


In the effort to address the classroom shortage in the National Capital Region, Regions III, IV-A, and VII, the Department has been acquiring additional school sites in these regions for the past five years.

From 2016 to 2020, a total of only 15 new school sites were acquired through the Department’s Site Acquisition Funds. However, while there are still funds for the purpose, albeit totally insufficient, DepEd is finding it difficult to look for sites that can be acquired. This is mainly due to the following:

  1. no more available sites;
  2. cost of sites in urban areas is too high and the site acquisition budget provided is not enough; and
  3. if there are available sites, land owners are unwilling to sell their property to DepEd because of the lower commercial value.

At this juncture, it is worthy to mention that the annual appropriation of P65,000,000 (from 2017 to 2021, saved from 2016 and 2019 where increases were provided) for Improvement and Acquisition of School Sites is meager and wanting—not even enough to cover the Titling of school sites. It seems that in the distribution of tasks and mandates, land acquisition falls under Local Government Units, and through donations of private groups and/or individuals, practically leaving DepEd with no say on the locations, nor the freedom to exercise prudence in choosing hazard-free areas.

Acquisition of School Sites from 2016 to 2021

GAA 201676,120,000 PHP
GAA 201765,000,000 PHP
GAA 201865,000,000 PHP
GAA 2019150,000,000 PHP
GAA 202065,000,000 PHP
GAA 202165,000,000 PHP
Table 4. Annual Appropriation of DepEd for School Siter Acquisition


In order to determine the direction and proper action in addressing the classroom issues in these specific regions, a series of consultations were conducted with Regional Directors, school leaders, and other counterparts within the Department. Two ideas were presented:

Transporting Learners to other nearby schools or to schools to be constructed in neighboring towns/cities with large buildable spaces

This concept is about balancing the volume of learners that a school caters to. If a certain school has a large volume of learners that it can no longer accommodate, other learners can be referred to other nearby schools that are open and can still accept and cater to additional learners.

New school buildings may be constructed in neighboring cities or towns that have schools with large buildable areas. Learners will be bused in from their residence to these schools.

However, this will require the full support and assistance of local government units (LGUs). Parents have to be informed about the proposal and assured that their children will be safe while being transported to and from the assigned nearby school. Assistance from LGUs will be sought for the provision of transportation for the learners.

Construction of High-Rise School Buildings

The first idea presented may be considered an option for the different regions, depending upon the approval of their various stakeholders. However, it is not the most practical solution to address the problem of classroom shortage. Thus, the concept of constructing high-rise school buildings was formed. Given the limited sites available for schools to acquire and build on, this concept is the most acceptable solution, provided that a sufficient budget is available for the purpose. Likewise, assistance from the LGUs shall be sought for the maintenance of the structure once it is completed.


The proposed medium to high-rise school building design is intended to be constructed in highly urbanized areas where there is a dense population but limited land areas for development.

The proposal will have varied designs ranging from at least 5 floors to as high as 12 floors, or even higher. The number of floors will depend on the required classroom needs of the school, the available building space, the type of soil, and the projected enrollment population for the next 15 to 25 years.

DepEd Proposed High-Rise School Building 5 storey, 25 classrooms
5 storey, 25 classrooms

The new school building design takes into account the effects of climate change and global warming as it introduces green and sustainable tropical design principles to mitigate the negative effects to our environment. Passive cooling, site adaptation, and building layout to comply with the ideal “East-West” orientation will be given utmost importance to avoid dependence on artificial means of ventilating the building.

Compliant with National Building Code requirements and other laws pertaining to structural stability, fire safety, vertical conveyance, and utility requirements, the new school building design is meant to address school requirements for both academic and non-academic facilities.

Below are some salient design features for the high-rise school buildings:

A. Green Sustainable Design

  1. Passive Cooling approach – window openings shall be oriented to North and South, to reduce heat penetrating the building interiors.
  2. Maximized Daylighting and Natural Ventilation – natural light and wind will be allowed to enter the corridors on each floor. High windows will be installed along the walls fronting corridors to allow cross air ventilation as well as natural lighting in the corridor area.
  3. Water Efficiency

a. Use of Water Efficient Sanitary Fixtures – through water-saving toilet fixtures

b. Rainwater Harvesting System – rainwater from roofs will be collected and reused as gray water for toilet flushing, cleaning, and maintenance purposes

  1. Energy Efficiency

a. Use of Energy Efficient Lighting Fixtures (LED) – to reduce power consumption but still achieve required room illumination levels

b. Use of Renewable Energy/Photovoltaic cells (Solar Panels) -maximize the use of solar panels on roofs

  1. Use of locally available building materials – commercially available construction materials to be used
  2. Flood Mitigation

a. Elevated Ground Floor – to avoid floodwaters from entering the ground floor level in flood-prone areas.

B. Building Design

The high-rise school building design will promote Heritage Architecture by incorporating the architectural features of Gabaldon School Buildings of colonnaded and arched entrance porticos.

DepEd Perspective: Colonnaded Portico (inspired by Gabaldon School Buildings)
Perspective: Colonnaded Portico (inspired by Gabaldon School Buildings)

C. Accessibility for the Handicapped

The design will be compliant with B.P. 344 or the Act to Enhance the Mobility of Disabled Persons by the provision of ramps, PWD toilets, elevators with Braille Elevator Signage System for the blind and visually impaired. Tactile Guide Pathways as floors tiles shall also be introduced.

D. Safety

All balconies shall have vertical metal tubular elements as a safety feature to avoid students from falling or jumping from the ledges.

E. Typhoon Resiliency

Roll-up Shutters shall be provided at all corridor and balcony openings to serve as storm guards during super typhoons. Roof framing of the covered deck shall apply tested and proven installation details to ensure that roofing sheets are not detached or blown away from its roof framing at the height of super typhoons.

DepEd Perspective Corridors
Perspective Corridors

F. Ancillary Systems

The buildings shall have a central clock and bell system, central public address/intercom system, CCTV system and Wi-Fi system.

G. Vertical Conveyance System

The buildings shall have an efficient elevator system with “persons per lift” (ppl) capacities ranging from 15, 17, 20, 24 ppl at various speeds ranging from 60, 90, 105, 120, 150 meters per minute, depending on the specific building height and the number of students/faculty/admin personnel to transport during peak hours of the day.

H. Structural System

The design shall be compliant with the latest/amended structural code with respect to earthquakes, typhoons, and other disaster mitigation.

General Structural Design Features

  1. Value Engineered Structure
  2. Earthquake Resistant Structure Design (Resisting Magnitude 8.0;

Intensity 9 Earthquake)

2.1 Special Moment Frame Joints using Ultra-High-Performance Concrete (UHPC);

2.2 Lightweight Aggregates / High Strength Post-Tensioned Floor System;

2.3 Shear Wall using Ultra-High-Performance Concrete (UHPC);

2.4 Earthquake Resistant Foundation

  1. Windproof Engineering Design

3.1 Wind Load Velocity = 310 KPH;

3.2 High-Performance Roof System Design

I. Air Conditioning and Ventilation Systems

  1. Air conditioning system will use variable refrigerant volume (VRV) that can provide good indoor temperature control and at the same time provide an efficient cooling system.
  2. To save on energy, heat recovery ventilation shall be used to reduce the cooling load requirement of fresh air.
Perspective: Elevator Lobby

J. Fire Protection Systems

  1. The design of the sprinkler piping shall be through hydraulic calculation that will result to an efficient piping system that can deliver the required sprinkler water flow with optimum size of pipes.
  2. Fire Exits Stairs are equipped with stair pressurization system in compliance to the National Fire Code of the Philippines.

K. Electrical System

Complete analysis and design of all electrical components of the building, to make sure that these are in accordance with the latest practice and application of electrical engineering and following the Philippine Electrical Code (PEC), NATIONAL ELECTRICAL CODE (NEC), and Building Standards, including but not limited to:

  1. Electrical Services

a. High voltage/Low voltage transformation

b. Power Installation

c. Standby power supply, including generator

d. Back of the house lighting system

e. Power supply for specialist lighting areas

  1. Low Voltage and Ancillary Services

a. Cable trunking system for telephone and data

b. Cable trunking system for fire alarm system, including CCTV surveillance,

c. Clock distribution system

  1. Coordination with utility providers for inputs to design and finalize connection of electrical system
Perspective: Covered Multi-Purpose Area (Top Floor)

L. Plumbing System

Complete analysis and design of all electrical components of the building, to make sure that these are in accordance with the latest practice and application of the INTERNATIONAL PLUMBING CODE, UNIFORM PLUMBING CODE, NATIONAL BUILDING CODE, and the AMERICAN SOCIETY OF PLUMBING ENGINEERS (ASPE), including but not limited to:

  1. Water supply shall be from city water district distribution water line; cistern storage capacity shall be good for one (1) day.
  2. Elevated water tank shall be provided at roof deck. Transfer pumps shall be used to deliver water from the cistern to the elevated water tank.
  3. Water for each unit shall be tapped from water downfeed pipes connected to the elevated water tank. Top 2 floors shall utilize hydropneumatic pumping system to provide constant water pressure.
  4. Pressure-reducing valve shall be strategically located to avoid excessive pressure on plumbing fixtures.
  5. Pipe insulation shall be provided for all exposed pipes.
  6. Grease trap and water filter shall be provided where necessary.
  7. Sewer shall be collected through several soil stacks, discharged to the Septic tank, and then discharged to the local main sewer drainage line.
  8. All fixtures shall be vented with proper vent stack thru roof (VSTR).
  9. Sewer and vent pipe sizing shall be designed using fixture unit (FU) method.
  10. Roof drain and deck drain shall pass through several downspouts and discharged to the central collector tanks for reuse.
  11. Downspout/Drainage pipe sizing shall be designed using 8 in/hr rainfall intensity.
  12. Condensate drain from A/C unit shall be tapped to separate downspouts.
  13. Trenches shall be provided at ramps to collect storm water.
  14. All pumps shall be connected to emergency power.
  15. All exposed plumbing pipes shall be painted in accordance with universal standard color coding.


The advantage of having a small building footprint for the new high-rise school building is that during implementation, only a few existing buildings will be affected depending on where it will be located within the school campus.

Demolishing fewer existing buildings to give way to new construction will be advantageous to the school as classes will not be disrupted and may still be held in the remaining school buildings unaffected by the construction. There will be less dislocation of students and faculty, and to compensate for the affected buildings, the school may choose to do limited double shifts of classes until the new high-rise building is completed and turned over to the school.


Below are the Top 10 target areas with classroom shortages for High-Rise School Buildings. The Top 9 cities have more than 1,000 classroom shortage except Rodriguez, Rizal with 898.

Antipolo City2,047
Davao City1,826
Taguig City1,488
Caloocan City1,377
Zamboanga City1,351
Dasmarinas City1,210
Valenzuela City1,164
Quezon City1,154
Paranaque City1,092
Rodriguez, Rizal898
Table 5. Top 10 Cities/Towns having the highest number of classroom shortage


The project is proposed to be implemented under the Multi-Year Contractual Authority (MYCA) since the construction of this type of high-rise school building will definitely take more than a year to complete.

It is strongly suggested that this project immediately commences in 2022 as part of the Legacy Program of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte by appropriating at least 6 billion pesos to implement the project.

All LGUs willing to partner with the national government and all other basic education stakeholders are welcome and encouraged to join this noble endeavor.

It is also suggested that an appropriate Public-Private Partnership (PPP) for School Infrastructure Project (PSIP) be designed for high-rise school buildings to enable the private sector to participate in solving the perennial problem of classroom shortage, provided the same designs shall be adopted and implemented.

Amid shifting demographics and the changing needs of the times, it is with urgency and great optimism and that this proposal for the construction of high-rise school buildings is presented.

With singleness of purpose, we can hope, as one nation, timely address and overcome the recurring shortage of classrooms — leaving a legacy to our Filipino learners and advance Basic Education in the country.


Upgrading of DepEd School Building Designs to Conform With the Changing Environment and Building Requirements of Schools

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Mark Anthony Llego

Mark Anthony Llego, from the Philippines, has significantly influenced the teaching profession by enabling thousands of teachers nationwide to access essential information and exchange ideas. His contributions have enhanced their instructional and supervisory abilities. Moreover, his articles on teaching have reached international audiences and have been featured on highly regarded educational websites in the United States.

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