Duterte orders DepEd to boost health education amid COVID-19 crisis
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the Department of Education (DepEd) to equip teachers with basic health literacy skills to help Filipinos to effectively respond to a pandemic and other health situations.
In his budget message to Congress, Duterte said health literacy will be an “important item in our schools’ curricula” next year as the country grapples with the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), which has already sickened over 205,000 people nationwide.
“I have given specific instructions to Education Secretary Leonor “Liling” Briones to capacitate our educators/teachers to have sufficient and reasonable information to help our citizens equip themselves with at least a basic level of health literacy skills to better respond to a pandemic or disaster, in particular the prevention of infection,” Duterte said.
“Through this, the role of each and every one of us will no longer be passive. We will do our part in avoiding the creation of secondary transmission chains,” he added.
Biggest share of 2021 budget
Under the proposed P4.506-trillion national budget for 2021 recently submitted to Congress, the education sector will receive the largest share of the budget pie with P754.4 billion.
The bulk of the amount will go to DepEd with P606.5 billion, followed by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) with P50.9 billion, and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) with P13.7 billion.
Some P44.2 billion will be provided to CHED to support the free higher education of millions of students under the government’s Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education.
Duterte said the government’s priorities for the education sector under the 2021 proposed budget have been “reshaped — even reset“ to allow the adoption of flexible and blended learning, which he said to be done through a two-pronged strategy: a) expanding and institutionalizing flexible and multimodal learning and teaching options with P15.2 billion; and b) funding the expansion of DepEd’s Computerization Program with P9 billion.
According to Duterte, DepEd targets to print 944.4 million learning modules for 2021 and provide transistor radios for learners who have limited access or have absolutely no access to technology.
Likewise, 37,221 multimedia packages (1 laptop, 1 television set) will be distributed in public schools nationwide under the DepEd Computerization Program.
The DepEd will also allot P24.1 billion to construct 5,174 new classrooms, and procure 38,917 sets of school seats, among others, under its Basic Education Facilities Program.
The opening of the 2020-2021 academic year has been moved to Oct. 5 amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
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