Group urges DepEd to disclose needs, concerns ahead of school opening

Published August 19, 2020, 4:13 PM

by Merlina Hernando-Malipot

A federation of teachers on Wednesday urged the Department of Education (DepEd) to “disclose in detail” the funding needs and concerns that would ensure the safe delivery of accessible quality education on October 5.

The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Philippines said that a “clear breakdown of costs” by DepEd will be instrumental in lobbying for higher education allotment through “Bayanihan II.”

“In the interest of fulfilling the youth’s right to education, we urge DepEd to be transparent and reveal exactly how much more budget the agency needs to ensure a successful learning continuity starting October 5,” said ACT Secretary General Raymond Basilio.

Similarly, Basilio asked DepEd which of its funds are not susceptible for realignment due to policy constraints.

“We strongly encourage DepEd to sincerely endeavor in ensuring sufficient resources to amply prepare for school opening,” he added.

In a virtual press briefing on Aug. 17, DepEd officials said that they continue to realign and recalibrate its funds to ensure that the Basic Education-Learning Continuity Plan (BE-LCP) will be funded.

However, Education Secretary Leonor Briones, who is also an economist, explained that “resources are never enough for your needs and that law has not been repealed or amended.”

While DepEd tries to ensure that the existing and emerging needs in the basic education system would be addressed, she also explained that realigning funds needs to undergo certain procedures.

However, ACT said Briones’ claims are hard to understand “especially when we know for a fact that billions of the people’s money have been going to corruption.”  

“What we do understand is the laws enshrined in the constitution that the government is duty-bound to fund education,” Basilio said. “For that, we need concrete figures: how much more funds does DepEd need to establish enough health measures at schools, to support the treatment of infected personnel, to ensure enough modules for each learner, to provide needed tech infrastructures for online classes, among others?”

Given this, ACT demanded that Briones along with top DepEd officials to “grab and exhaust” all opportunities to act on the demands of the sector. The group added that the delivery of education amid the crisis falls not only on DepEd but on the entire Duterte administration who is responsible for the current state of the country.

With the ongoing deliberations of the “Bayanihan II,” ACT also urged DepEd to push for more funds for education since the “lack of budgetary support” from the national government serves as the “biggest roadblock” to school opening.

Basilio alleged that the first “Bayanihan” did nothing to prepare the public education system for the drastic measures it had to undertake due to the health crisis—which factored greatly in the two-time postponement of class resumption.

“Hence, DepEd should ensure that the critical step of gathering enough resources to finally enable the October 5 opening,” Basilio said. “We expect DepEd to be at the frontlines of calling for greater subsidy now that Bayanihan II is on the table, and not let more corrupt officials steal any more from the people.”