PH should invest heavily in education amid coronavirus pandemic -- Gatchalian

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said on Monday that the government should invest heavily in education even as it grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian (MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

With the Philippines officially in recession and growth in the education sector down by 12.2 percent based on the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) records, Gatchalian said adequate education funding can help boost the government’s programs for students to sustain the sector’s recovery despite the pandemic.

“There’s always an economic growth that follows whenever we invest heavily in education,” Gatchalian said.

“Pouring more money into education means a more educated future. Milyung-milyong mag-aaral ang mabibigyan ng pagkakataon para sa isang dekalidad na edukasyon (Millions of students will be given a chance to acquire quality education),” he said.

The Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts, and Culture chief said the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) and the Department of Finance (DOF) revealed that the education sector is the fourth most battered in terms of revenue with average losses of up to 76.8 percent.

Despite the education sector getting the P692-billion allocation which is the highest in the 2020 budget, education spending in the Philippines is still below the United Nations (UN) standard, which is 6 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Gatchalian said he is optimistic that with the expected enactment into law of the proposed Bayanihan to Recover As One Act or Bayanihan 2, this will help bring immediate relief to students, teachers, and personnel in affected private schools.

Under Bayanihan 2, a one-time cash assistance will be given to affected teachers and non-teaching personnel while students who are not covered by government educational subsidies and voucher programs will also receive tuition subsidies.

Gatchalian said he welcomes the Department of Education’s (DepEd) decision to move the opening of classes to October 5 saying this will give all stakeholders ample time to prepare for distance learning.

He also reiterated the need for the government to ensure that all teachers and school staff will be given necessary assistance to cover for COVID-19 testing, personal protective equipment (PPEs), and other health precautionary measures, including hospitalization.

“We will make sure that there will be funds available to protect their health. If there is someone among them who gets infected with COVID, immediate assistance should be given to her and if they need hospitalization, the government should be able to immediately respond,” Gatchalian said.