DepEd needs P137B more, mentors say
A teachers’ group urged both houses of Congress to find ways to add P136.6 billion to the proposed P605.74-billion 2021 budget of the Department of Education (DepEd) to fund “critical items to ensure the delivery of safe, quality and accessible education.”
According to the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT), 92.5 percent of their proposal, or P126.39 billion, is meant for teaching and learning resources and techniques that are required in the education sector to respond to the adjustments triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic.
ACT secretary general Raymond Basilio pushed for the full provision of the 1:1 module set-to-student ratio, laptop and internet allowance for the poorest 5 percent of students, and the hiring of 100,000 community tutors to assist learners who have no access to gadgets or have no capable adult to guide them at home.
“We appeal to our lawmakers to end the teachers’, students’ and parents’ nightmarish predicament under the newly opened distance learning program mainly borne out of lack of sufficient funding. Use your mandate to make things right for the education sector and the future of our country,” Basilio said.
One laptop per teacher
Under ACT’s proposal, P19.15 billion is needed to provide one laptop per teacher, P13.33 billion for devices and internet subsidy of the poorest 5 percent of students, and P36.38 billion for the printing of additional modules.
The group also called for the restoration of the P2.69-billion cut in the school maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) in 2021, which Basilio said had proved vital in the provision of “the barest minimum health standards in schools.”
Schools depend mainly on their MOOEs to fund other needs since these are primarily used for the repair of classrooms and procurement of other learning materials for face-to-face classes.
In addressing the insufficient funds for module printing in local offices, the DepEd has also asked schools to shell out funds from their respective MOOEs while the budget from the central office was not yet downloaded to their areas.
“[The MOOE] must be increased significantly, instead of slashed, to ensure the availability of sanitation and health personnel, equipment and supplies in schools,” Basilio explained.
He added that ACT had received reports that 273 teaching and nonteaching personnel had been infected with COVID-19 in Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon) alone, which prompted the need for additional funding in personal protective equipment (PPE) and mass testing.
In order to conduct mass testing for just 1 percent of education workers, ACT said P700 million must be allocated, while P500 million is required for the purchase of PPEs.
In August, the DepEd explained that funds for COVID-19 medication and treatment were not included in its current budget, as was the case for other government agencies.
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