By Hannah Torregoza
The Senate finance committee has approved the proposed P551.72-billion budget for the basic education sector for 2020.
Senator Pia Cayetano, vice-chair of the Senate finance panel, said the budget for the Department of Education (DepEd) and its attached agencies will now move to the plenary for deliberations.
DepEd’s budget saw an increase by 3.79 percent from 2019 or P531.57 billion.
The budget covers DepEd’s attached agencies which include the Philippine High School for the Arts, National Council for Children’s Television, National Book Development Board, National Museum, and Early Childhood Care and Development Council.
“We are happy to support your budget. I also thank DepEd for acknowledging my observation to create an office on innovation and futures thinking for education,” Cayetano said during Thursday’s budget hearing.
But Cayetano said she hopes that after receiving the lion’s share of the P4.1-trillion national budget for 2020, DepEd would be able to address concerns involving the country’s public education system particularly the need to improve the teacher-to-student ratio in public schools in the country.
She said DepEd should hire more teachers and adopt learning innovations to oversee the development of students.
According to Cayetano, one way to address the issue of classroom sizes and the lack of learning resources is for DepEd to consider non-traditional ways of teaching.
“I want to start the discussion on blended learning,” she said, referring to the education style where students are taught through traditional face-to-face teaching, as well as via electronic and online media.
“I am a proponent of multilevel classrooms. I am also a proponent of personalized education… I have yet to go to a public school where the materials available are overflowing,” she added.
Cayetano then encouraged DepEd to ensure the full delivery of services under its DepEd Computerization Program (DCP), which gives both public school teachers and students access to multimedia tools and technologies to promote digital literacy.
“There are many ways to teach a child. We can make it more exciting,” Cayetano said, adding that technology-based blended learning could enable teachers to attend to the needs of each child in their class.
For her part, Education Secretary Leonor Briones acknowledged the proposal to create a separate committee on innovation and futures thinking in order to confront new trends in the education sector.