‘Nasaan?’ Group questions DepEd's claim of distributing 300K+ laptops to teachers

The Department of Education (DepEd) was urged to explain further its claims of distributing laptops to public school teachers especially as the country opens another school year under distance or blended learning set-up.

(File photo from DepEd)

During DepEd’s budget last week, Undersecretary Pascua announced a total of 353,359 laptops procured and provided to teachers through budget allocations from 2019 up to the “Bayanihan 2.”

However, the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) questioned DepEd’s claims -- noting that the this “does not align” with its survey findings which indicate that “only seven percent (7%) of teachers from NCR and 14 percent from other regions will be using DepEd-issued laptops for school year 2021–2022.” The said survey, ACT said, ran from August 23 to 31, 2021.

ACT Secretary General Raymond Basilio pointed out that according to DepEd’s claims, about “34 percent of public school teachers should by now be using DepEd-issued laptops” --- however, this is “far from the truth” as noted by teachers themselves.

“So we ask DepEd, in the spirit of transparency, where are these laptops and are they serving the purpose of aiding teachers in distance learning?” Basilio said. “We’re afraid that without such honest accounting, we won’t be able to truly determine how much more laptops should be budgeted,” he added.

The group further questioned DepEd for the 211,000 laptops purchased in 2019 “as these were not reflected” in the 2019 DepEd budget.

ACT said that Pascua was “more likely referring” to the total number of laptops the agency has acquired in previous years—many of which are no longer serviceable or had specs that do not meet the requirements of distance learning.

The group said that remaining of the laptops - which were “relatively new and more serviceable” - from 2020 present will then come to only 142,359 units which leaves 693,585 teachers still without a DepEd-issued laptop.

Given this, Basilio said that DepEd still has an about 83 percent “backlog” in laptop provision. “That is, if we assume that all 142,359 will go to teachers, but even that isn’t quite accurate as the recent DepEd memo on the distribution of the Bayanihan 2-funded laptops shows that a sizable portion will go to offices rather than to classroom teachers,” he added.

Outright lie?

As such, Basilio alleged that Pascua’s claims on their laptop provision for about 42 percent of teachers “now becomes suspect at best, an outright lie at worst.”

Basilio also slammed the “bloated” P33-B figure which Pascua dropped during the hearing which will supposedly ensure the provision of laptops to “all teachers” or to the remaining 482,585 teachers who were not covered by their claimed 353,359 laptops.

ACT said that a “decent laptop” only amounts to about P25,000 which is more or less the cost of laptops that were recently distributed to some teachers. “Therefore, to cover DepEd’s actual backlog of 693,585 teachers, it only needs P17.4-B—nearly half of what DepEd claimed it needed,” Basilio said.

Given all these, ACT said urged DepEd - particularly Pascua - to explain where the “bloated figure” came from when its ballpark figure of P33-B is almost double the group’s estimate of P17.4-B for “greater number of teachers compared to how many they intended to cover.”

The group also urged the legislators to “look into these computations” as they deliberate on the 2022 budget of DepEd.