By Genalyn Kabiling
The education sector will get the lion’s share of the proposed P3.757-trillion national budget for 2019 amid plans to offer free tuition in state universities and colleges, hire more teachers, and repair and build classrooms.
“With a total budget of P659.3 billion, the Education Sector remains the top recipient under the 2019 National Budget in terms of allocation,” President Duterte said in his budget message to Congress.
Under the 2019 budget proposal, the President said the Department of Education (DepEd) would receive P528.8 billion, followed by the SUCs, P65.2 billion; the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), P50.4 billion; and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), P14.8 billion.
Duterte said the government has increased the budget for the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education (UAQTE) to P51 billion in 2019 from P40 billion this year.
The budget will cover the cost of tertiary education for Filipino students enrolled in SUCs, local universities and colleges, private higher education institutions and vocational institutions registered under TESDA.
The government has also set aside P2.21 billion for the creation of 10,000 teaching positions to help DepEd meets its target of 25 learners per teacher in the coming years.
Of this amount, P1.1 will finance the creation of 4,770 Teacher II positions for senior high schools while the remaining P1.1 billion will be for the creation of 5,230 Teacher I positions for K to 10.
“I have also instructed the DepEd to fill its 105,529 existing unfilled positions — and for this purpose, we are providing some P27.6 billion under the 2019 Budget,” Duterte said.
Around P34.7 billion has also been allocated for the DepEd’s Basic Educational Facilities Program under the K to 12 basic education regime. The budget will be used to build 4,110 classrooms (P10.2 billion); procure 43,200 schools seats (P2.14 billion); repair and rehabilitate 33,672 classrooms (P10.5 billion); build 1,320 computer, technical-vocational, and science laboratories (P4 billion); and energize 1,710 schools in off-grid areas (P2.7 billion).
The DepEd will also spend P10 billion to purchase textbooks and instruction materials (P1.7 billion), acquire Science and Math equipment (P2.12 billion), procure technical-vocational equipment (P2 billion), and fund its computerization program (P4 billion) next year.
Duterte said to ensure no child is left behind in terms of education, they have proposed a P32.1-billion government assistance to students and teachers in private schools and in Non-DepEd Public Schools (GASTPE).
Of the budget, P18.8 billion will finance the voucher program for private senior high school and P10.7 billion will go to the education service contracting program for private junior high school. “This involves paying private schools to enroll students in areas with shortages of public high schools,” Duterte said.