With the plan to fully implement in-person learning by November this year, a group of education workers urged the national government to double the School Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE) to ensure a safe reopening of classes.
The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Philippines, in a statement issued Thursday, July 7, said that the national government should double the school MOOE through a supplemental budget.
ACT Philippines Chairperson Vladimer Quetua said that currently, the entire school MOOE is around P30 billion which is divided among all 48,000 public schools.
“It was computed following a pre-pandemic formula, based on the type of school and number of classrooms, students, and teachers,” Quetua said.
“This only suffices for pre-pandemic regular operational expenses like utilities, supplies, small repairs, equipment, salaries of job order workers, and budget for activities, but needs for a safe school reopening were not factored in,” he added.
Quetua also pointed out that out of the P592 billion DepEd budget, only five percent “actually goes to school operations and this also accounts for a mere 30 percent of the P98 billion total DepEd MOOE budget.”
However, Quetua noted that the DepEd “always invokes this miniscule fund whenever the need to construct and procure health and safety facilities and equipment to ensure a safe return to face-to-face classes is raised.”
This, he alleged, is also among the reasons why teachers and principals “often have to shell out their own money to get things moving.”
“It is also the reason why 50 percent of our schools were not able to return to face-to-face classes,” Quetua added.
Despite the current rise in the spending limit on MOOE from P15,000 to P50,000 per item, Quetua stressed that school MOOE is “simply insufficient” to cover the needed improvements in classroom ventilation, and installation of hand-washing facilities, setting-up of school clinics and the like.
With the current MOOE, Quetua said that an average of around P625,000 per year or P52,000 per month is allocated for every school.
Given this, ACT urged President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. to ask Congress to urgently legislate a supplemental budget to double the school MOOE for a safe 100 percent school reopening.