A multi-stakeholder education movement composed of teachers, education experts, leading academics, students, parents, and advocates called for the prioritization of needs of education amid the deliberation of Bayanihan to Arise as One Act or “Bayanihan 3.”
The Movement for Safe, Equitable, Quality, and Relevant Education (SEQuRe Education Movement) on Friday, May 14, urged the Senate of the Philippines and the House of Representatives (HOR) to include in its top priorities the needs of education.
This push comes in time for the upcoming resumption of Congress session on 17 May. “Our education system has long been in crisis, and our teachers and learners have already suffered for so long,” said Benjamin Valbuena, one of SEQuRe’s lead convenors.
“It is high time that the government take urgent action and provide concrete solutions to salvage the plummeting state of education in our country,” he added.
SEQuRe said that the P5.6 billion that was allocated to the Department of Education (DepEd) was “meager” and may not be “enough to salvage deteriorating state of education” in the country.
The allocation for DepEd, SEQuRe said, will be used for the purchase of distance learning essentials such as laptops, load and internet allowance, and production and distribution of modules. It also covers health and safety equipment for teachers who are tasked to report in schools and conduct home visitations.
However, Valbuena noted that this amount is “hardly enough to fund distance learning” much more for the preparation for face-to-face classes.
In a letter sent to the Senate and the HOR, SEQuRe forwarded a proposed total of P120.38 billion budgetary requirements for the safe delivery of accessible quality education.
SEQuRe proposed P98.5 billion to fund distance learning resources – with P26 billion allocated for distance learning devices for both students and teachers; P20 billion for a P1,500 monthly internet allowance for teachers and P150 monthly data provision for five percent of students; P17.5 billion for the hiring of community tutors, and P35 billion for the printing of modules, activity sheets, and other learning materials.
A total of P14.68 billion, the group said, is also needed to prepare for in-classroom learning – citing basic education facilities, hiring of one school nurse per DepEd district, and other health and safety equipment needed for the reopening of face-to-face classes in low-risk areas.
SEQuRe added that P7.2 billion is needed to provide health protection and benefits for education front liners. “More than one year into the pandemic and the education only worsens as distance learning problems remain ignored and unresolved,” Valbuena said.
Given this, SEQuRe urged the government to “finally take sufficient and necessary actions to respond to the needs of the education sector to ensure the youth’s enjoyment of their inviolable right to education.”