While it has yet to receive a final version of the bill, the Department of Education (DepEd) already welcomed the ratification of the Bayanihan to Recover as One Bill or Bayanihan 2, which allots P4 billion to the DepEd’s digital and alternative learning modalities under its Basic Education -Learning Continuity Plan (BE-LCP).
As finalized by both chambers of Congress, Other education-related allocations included in the Bayanihan 2 is the P600 million subsidies and allowances of qualified students in public and private schools at all levels and the P300 million for subsidies and allowances of displaced teaching and non-teaching personnel in all schools in all levels.
Said DepEd Undersecretary for Finance and Spokesperson Annalyn Sevilla, “Any additional funding that is aligned to and supportive of the implementation of the BE-LCP is very much welcome by the Department."
Even without the COVID-19 pandemic, Sevilla admitted the original budget given to DepEd “was not enough.”
“It is more challenging now because we have to do additional things,” Sevilla maintained.
In terms of financing the BE-LCP, she said that DepEd is preparing for two scenarios: the ideal and the conservative.
“Ideal, means everything is okay - we don’t have limited resources, we have the manpower, everyone is trained and the health situation is okay with some minimum requirements,” Sevilla said. “The conservative can be considered the ‘real scenario' because COVID came in the middle of first semester or March and our 2020 budget was not prepared for this."
Sevilla noted that there are different demands and requirements as DepEd shifts into distance learning delivery.
“In our original budget, there was no specific allotment for printing of modules but since we need to fund this, we realigned our funds,” she said. “We need to do so many things that we’re not included in the budget but don’t worry because we have been preparing for this.”
As it prepares for school opening on Oct. 5, Sevilla said “all of the DepEd’s budget is to support” the BE-LCP. To ensure that the BE-LCP is funded, DepEd continues to realign, review and re-calibrate its funds.
Currently, Sevilla noted that the estimated amount to fund the BE-LCP is at P65 billion. A total of P9 billion was already downloaded to schools, P17 billion was realigned and modified, the Special Education Fund (SEF) was also aligned to BE-LCP with a total of about P20 billion under the local government units (LGUs).
Sevilla added that DepEd’s annual back-to-school program called “Brigada Eskwela” was also reconfigured to support the BE-LCP.
“At this time, resources - especially finances - are limited so, even if the budget is not enough, we will have to make do with what is enough,” she ended.