A teachers’ federation said Wednesday that the “railroading” of the 2021 national budget by Congress Tuesday has robbed the Filipino youth of the chance at quality education amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Philippines noted that the passage on second reading of the national budget came at the height of education stakeholders struggling on how to go about the ill-funded blended learning which the Department of Education (DepEd) implemented when classes in public schools nationwide opened last Monday.
“The self-serving move of elected officials in Congress is a great affront to all teachers, parents, and learners who tirelessly work to uphold learning continuity amid grave state neglect,” ACT Secretary General Raymond Basilio said. “This is, plain and simple, a betrayal of the people’s interest,” he added.
For the group, the approval of the national budget on second reading was “unacceptable” because it failed to allot sufficient support for education continuity amid the pandemic. The group added that stakeholders are “palpably experiencing the effects of poor budget allocation to education, thus, the passage of the 2021 spending program translates to another year of suffering for the people.”
ACT cited the P15-billion budget for module printing instead of the “conservative” DepEd estimate of P50 billion, among others.
It said teachers, parents, and learners have been trying to fill in shortages in government input. “It’s extremely disheartening and enraging to witness parents forced to choose between working to provide their family’s basic needs for food, shelter, and the like and staying at home to ensure that their children have the chance at education that they themselves were deprived of,” Basilio said.
Teachers, Basilio added, also “try to reach each and every student at the expense of their own safety and overall well-being in order to provide them learning opportunities.”
With the recent development in the 2021 national budget, ACT challenged Education Secretary Leonor Briones to “quickly address complaints” from stakeholders on education continuity amid the health crisis.