Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Tuesday urged state economic managers to allocate more funds for the education sector in next year’s proposed national budget to help the sector’s recovery from the negative impact of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
Gatchalian said the government should allocate up to six percent (6%) of the gross domestic product (GDP) to the education sector, as recommended by the United Nation’s (UN) under the Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG 4).
The education department has been given four (4) percent of the GDP or a P759-billion budget for this year to help address the challenges of the pandemic.
The senator explained a big chunk of the budget goes to basic education, which is 3.2 percent of the GDP.
“We want to make sure that the budget for the education sector is responsive to the new normal by re-channeling some of the programs to distance learning—(to) increase the use of the Internet and protect the health of our teachers and our school officials,” Gatchalian said.
“Channeling resources to education is such an important ingredient to the success of our learners,” said the senator, who chairs the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture.
Aside from meeting the UN spending targets, the senator also proposed ensuring efficient funding at the local level to improve learner outcomes, proper coverage for vulnerable groups, and adjusting the national budget to adapt to the “new normal.”
The lawmaker also pushed for the passage of Senate Bill No. 1579 or the 21st Century School Boards Act, which seeks to expand the use of the Special Education Fund (SEF).
He said the expanded use of the SEF would cover salaries of public elementary and high school teachers, non-teaching, utility, and security personnel.
Also included in the proposed expansion of the SEF coverage include the salaries of preschool teachers, capital outlay for pre-schools, operation and maintenance of Alternative Learning System (ALS) programs, distance education classes and additional training programs.
“These are all contributory to the improvement of the quality of education in the country,” he said.