DepEd's Last Mile Schools (LMS) usually have multi-grade level classrooms due to the limited number of classrooms accommodating the communities' entire student population from different grade levels. The LMS ensures that the schools' classrooms are made of sturdy material and equipped with the proper learning facilities, including computers that have access to programs complementing the classroom teaching and electricity.
Sen. Pia Cayetano, Vice Chairperson of Senate Finance Committee, vows to increase the funding allocation of Last Mile Schools (LMS) Program from P1.5 billion to P15 billion in 2020’s proposed P4.1 trillion national government budget.
LMS are schools with less than four classrooms, usually makeshift and nonstandard ones, with no electricity, no funds for renovation and construction projects in the last four years, and more than an hour away from town centers. Communities have no access to private contractors, suppliers and service providers.
Cayetano, a mountain biker and a hiking enthusiast, visits upland schools in the north to give learning materials and conduct fitness and football clinics for students. According to her, the additional fund will benefit 830 LMS located in far-flung and hinterland communities across the Philippines.
The Department of Education (DepEd) originally requested for a P21.52 billion budget for its LMS program for 2020, but only P1.5 billion was approved by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), based on the 2020 National Expenditure Program (NEP).
In August, a memorandum was issued by the Office of the Deputy Executive Secretary for Finance and Administration directed to the DBM to include and prioritize the "Last Mile Schools Fund" as a new line item under DepEd's budget in the 2020 NEP.
As of September 1, there are about 9,225 schools identified as LMS, with CAR (1,223), Western Visayas (824) and Eastern Visayas (1,076) having the most number - excluding the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).