Members of a federation of teachers on Friday trooped to the Senate to once again call for a pandemic-responsive education budget by re-channeling alleged “pork” funds and those allocated for “war” into social services.
Members of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Philippines called for an education budget that will aptly respond to the COVID-19 pandemic as the Senate continues with its deliberations on the 2021 proposed budget for the Department of Education (DepEd).
ACT said that DepEd will need P126.9 billion to ensure the minimum requisites for safe, accessible, and quality education. While the proposal only amounts to a “meager” 3.1% of the P4.1 trillion 2021 National Expenditure Program (NEP), the group said that this “will ensure the welfare and rights” of at least 22 million students and 900,000 public school teachers.
“The delivery of education suffered delays for this school year due to our education system’s difficulty in shifting to remote learning amid the uncontained pandemic,” ACT Secretary General Raymond Basilio said.
“With no end in sight to this health crisis, we urge lawmakers to judiciously allocate the people’s coffers to enable the provision of social services like education to the Filipino people. After all, education is an inviolable right of our children and youth,” he added.
Members of ACT also called on the lawmakers to allocate at least P116.6 billion to teaching and learning needs under the blended modes of learning.
Basilio said the “new normal” in education entails a major shift in the operation of schools and even households. “It remains the government’s responsibility to ensure that this will be done without foregoing access and quality, otherwise this government will fail and disenfranchise millions of youth,” he said.
The group also called for the establishment of preventive health measures which will need P1.7 billion and the protection and granting of benefits to its frontliners in education requiring P8.6 billion in funds.
Basilio said education workers are essential frontliners with or without the pandemic. “As the state endeavors to do its mandate of guaranteeing education for all, it cannot do so without ensuring the welfare and rights of teachers and education support personnel,” he said. “An investment in education workers is an investment in the future of education and of the nation,” he added.