By Ellson Quismorio
A House leader is prodding the country’s leading private corporations to avail themselves of tax incentives under the 22-year-old Adopt-a-School Program (ASP) and at the same time provide public elementary and high school students with badly needed online learning tools.
According Pasig City lone district Rep. Roman Romulo, the ASP gives donors of basic education materials the benefit of deducting from their gross taxable income up to 150 percent of the value of their contribution.
“Business process outsourcing companies, for instance, can donate brand new or even secondhand desktop computers, laptops or tablets for home use by both students and teachers, while those in telecommunications can sponsor free data plans to facilitate remote learning over the Internet,” Romulo, chairman of the House Committee on Basic Education and Culture, said on Sunday.
He made the statement as the Department of Education (DepEd) prepares to shift to blended distance learning without face-to-face classes amid the COVID-19 pandemic for school year 2020-21. The reopening of classes is slated on August 24.
“The DepEd has existing guidelines on accepting and processing applications for the availment of tax benefits by private donors under the ASP. We would urge new donors to get in touch with the DepEd’s External Partnerships Service Secretariat for more details on the mechanics of the ASP,” Romulo said.
The ASP was institutionalized way back in 1998 through Republic Act (RA) 8525 for the purpose of mobilizing private funds in addressing the public school system’s persistent resource gaps.
Under the program, entities or individuals that help “adopted” public schools may claim a gross income deduction as much as 150 percent of the value of their donation.
Citing an example, Romulo said a corporation that would sponsor P10 million worth of laptops may claim a deduction of up to P15 million from its gross income.
For purposes of claiming deductions, the valuation of the donation other than cash would be based on the acquisition cost or purchase price of the materials or services supplied.
Contributions of secondhand or used materials would be subject to depreciated valuation.
Under the ASP, learning and technology support such as desktop computers, laptops, tablets, e-books, educational films, e-libraries, TV sets, Internet connectivity and cable TV services are among the qualified forms of assistance.
Over the years, one of the biggest contributors to the ASP has been the Knowledge Channel, or K Channel. The local pay TV channel has been contributing educational television (ETV) infrastructure and facilities to 2.8 million students in over 1,000 public schools.
Allocate budget for laptops
Meanwhile, Deputy Majority Leader Bagong Henerasyon Party-List Rep. Bernadette Herrera also urged Malacañang Sunday to include in the proposed national budget for 2021 an allocation for DepEd that allows it procure laptops for all 880,000 public school teachers in the country.
“We hope that a budget for the purchase of laptops for all teachers in public schools will be included in the 2021 National Expenditure Program to be submitted by Malacañang to Congress in July or August,” Herrera said.
She said that laptops have never been more important for public teachers as they prepare to shift to online teaching as part of the new normal.
“We have to make sure that our teachers are equipped with at least the most basic technology tool for online teaching, which is a laptop,” she added.
DepEd earlier bared it would need a whopping P27 billion in order to provide each public school teacher a laptop.
Herrera said the laptops for teachers may cost a lot, but “it’s money well spent.”
“By having a laptop, teachers can enhance the curriculum, providing students with extensive research opportunities, access to up-to-date information and many other learning benefits,” she pointed out.
By the end of 2020, the education department said that 190,574 laptops will be available for use by teachers or 22 percent of the total DepEd teaching force.
Herrera said the remaining 78 percent or around 680,000 teachers must be covered by the spending program to be submitted by Malacañang to Congress.
The second regular session of the 18th Congress will open on July 27, with the crafting of the national budget being the solons’ first major task as per tradition.