After the passage of the Senate version of the proposed national budget for 2021, the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) has criticized the P1.4-billion additional allocation for the education sector, saying it was “too negligible” to have any positive impact on education delivery amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
ACT Secretary General Raymond Basilio said that the additional budget given to the education was too little as “it will not afford gadgets and better access to learning resources for the poorest of our learners or Internet allowance for teachers.” He added that this will not even restore old teachers’ benefits that were removed in the 2021 budget such as the World Teachers Day Incentive and the medical allowance.
From the total P710.9-billion education budget proposed by the Duterte administration in the 2021 National Expenditure program, ACT noted that the Senate approved a total of P712.3 billion for basic, technical-vocational, and higher education after making some adjustments.
ACT said that the P1.4-billion increase in the budget reportedly include additional funding for the school supplies, equipment, printing of modules, Alternative Learning System, and solar panels in schools; flexible learning options; college scholarships, National Child Development Center, and Philippine Science High School for the Department of Education (DepEd).
Basilio said that this is too meager and will “not address our demands to lessen the hardships of our learners, teachers, and families which were brought about by lack of government support as we navigate into distance learning.”
Public basic education, Basilio said, most urgently needs P45 billion for teaching and learning resources and Internet connectivity support, P35 billion for the hiring of community tutors or learning support aides, P1.7 billion for safety measures in schools, and P8.5 billion in health protection and benefits for education frontliners.
“After so many hours of posturing in the Senate budget deliberations, it is extremely disappointing that our senators who have pledged to forward the interest of education would only come up with this measly increase,” Basilio said. “We will fight this out up to the bicameral conference,” he added.