A group of education workers on Monday, May 24, called out the Department of Education (DepEd) for its “slow disbursement of funds” which costs teachers and learners a whole lot more when it comes to resources.
Despite the pandemic, the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Philippines alleged that DepEd’s disbursement of funds – as it does every year – remained the same. “Pandemic-hit teachers and families are forced to use their own meagre incomes to fund the hefty needs of education,” said ACT Secretary General Raymond Basilio.
“So it’s not just about fiscal irresponsibility anymore, but DepEd’s commission of a grave injustice against its constituents,” he added.
ACT decried that DepEd’s “poor” fiscal performance has once again compelled teachers and learners to shoulder the costs of education – which is significantly more expensive under the distance learning setup.
The group pointed this out after Senator Sonny Angara called out the agency DepEd for “failing to fully obligate and disburse funds from Bayanihan 2” which is set to expire on June 30, 2021.
“Even worse is if you think of all our students who had fallen out of their classes because they can no longer afford the costs of distance learning and to this day had not received any support from DepEd,” Basilio said.
Basilio added that the cost of DepEd’s poor handling of the people’s money is poor students’ loss of their right to education. “That’s unacceptable and DepEd must do something to correct this and avoid similar problems in the future,” he added.
Given this, Basilio urged DepEd to hasten its disbursement of funds. ACT also called on Congress to increase funding for education and ensure that these provisions are enjoyed by target beneficiaries a.k.a. education workers and learners.
The House of Representatives currently tackles the Bayanihan 3 – which ACT pointed out is “barely responsive to the dire needs of education” amid the pandemic.
Basilio said that the Bayanihan to Arise as One Bill is by far the biggest of the three Bayanihans with over P400 billion funds for allocation to the government’s pandemic response. However, he noted that “education provisions remain scant” at only P5.6 billion.
ACT estimated that a total of P120.38 billion is needed to provide the needs of distance learning—including internet allowances and gadgets for learners and teachers; health protection and benefits for education frontliners; and to prepare for limited face-to-face classes in low-risk areas.
“We can’t stress this enough—the Philippine education system is also in crisis not just due to the pandemic but more so from years of abandonment and it’s nearing collapse,” Basilio said.
He added that teachers, support personnel, and learners are all overburdened by education, thus, “we need our legislators to decisively address the many gaps in this essential service, starting with the grant of ample funding.”