Add’l funds for DepEd’s modules, learning materials urged

To ensure learning continuity amid crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic, a group of education stakeholders on Friday urged the Congress to give additional budget to the Department of Education (DepEd) to fund modules and learning materials for the students.

Aral Pilipinas, composed of education practitioners, parents, students, and development workers who advocate for the continuity of education in times of crises, underscored the need to fully finance the printing and reproduction of self-learning modules (SLMs) under the 2021 General Appropriations Act.

“We cannot allow the COVID-19 pandemic to further disrupt the education of Filipino learners,” the group said. “It falls upon all of us to ensure the 24 million enrolled learners complete the 2020-2021 school year which starts on Oct. 5,” it added.

To ensure learning continuity, the group said that the cost of the end-to-end system of blended learning – especially the reproduction of modules – must be fully-funded under the national budget by appropriating an additional amount of at least P40 billion for the production and reproduction of SLMs for K-to-12.

“The cost must not be passed on to learners, their parents, or teachers,” Aral Pilipinas said. “At the same time, we must safeguard the health and safety of learners, teachers, and their families by providing individual SLMs for each learner,” it added.

Aral Pilipinas explained that the current P15 billion programmed under the DepEd budget in the 2021 National Expenditure Program for Flexible Learning Options (ADM/ALS/EiE) is “simply not enough” and said even DepEd has expressed this during their budget hearing last Sept. 15.

Preliminary budget computations made by Aral Pilipinas for the reproduction of SLMs show approximately P67 billion is needed to print modules for at least 50 percent of the enrolled learners in public schools for SY 2020-2021.