Bigger DepEd budget eyed for next yearBy Tarra Quismundo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—Department of Education communications chief Tina Ganzon said Friday the Aquino administration’s proposed P292.7-billion department budget for next year would allow the DepEd to hire more teachers, build more classrooms and fund the K to 12 program.
K to 12 is DepEd’s basic education reform program that aims to produce employable Filipino graduates by adding two years of senior high school to the 10-year basic education system.
Implemented in phases, K to 12 will see the first batch of incoming senior high school students in June 2016.
“The significant increase in the proposed 2013 budget is proof that education is a priority agenda of the Aquino administration,” Ganzon said.
“This will allow us to plug the shortage in classrooms by next school year, hire more teachers and continue to improve the curriculum under the K to 12 program,” she said.
Still facing deliberations in Congress, the proposed 2013 DepEd budget is P55.9 billion or 23 percent higher than this year’s P238.8-billion department budget.
The government’s funding for education has steadily increased in the last few years along with the annual increase in enrollment, but it continues to fall short of spending levels recommended by the United Nations, which stands at six percent of a country’s gross domestic product.
Critics of the administration have pointed out that its education funding remained below three percent of the GDP.
But Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said the proposed budget would give the DepEd “enough budget” to fill the teacher shortage “for the first time in Philippine history.”
He said at a recent press conference that the budget would fund the hiring of 61,510 teachers and build and repair 31,789 classrooms.
The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) meanwhile scored a new feature on the national budget, which would reward deserving civil servants under a performance-based bonus system. Some P10 billion was allotted to this incentive program under the 2013, said ACT party-list Rep. Antonio Tinio.
Tinio said government should instead use the funds to increase the pay of teachers and other state employees, saying the reward package “deflects attention away from civil servants’ demands for higher salaries.”