ASIDE from the razzle-dazzle of Brigada Eskwela, overcrowded classrooms—or lack of them—are still considered the perennial problems confronting students every opening of classes. (Brigada Eskwela is a nationwide initiative by the Department of Education (DepEd) that mobilizes thousands of parents, teachers, individuals and students who volunteer their time and skills to do repairs, maintenance work and clean-up of schools.)
While an expected increase in student population is inevitable, how come the local government units seem to be unprepared? The DepEd gets the biggest slice of the national budget and yet, two to three sessions are still happening—the morning, afternoon and evening sessions, regarded as the supposedly temporary solution to the overcrowding.
A teacher recently uploaded on a video on social media that went viral, highlighting a situation in one of the public schools that embarrassed authorities—particularly the principal—who intends to file charges against the teacher. The video showed a faculty/mini library in what appears to be a comfort room. The principal justified that the faculty was moved into the CR in order to accommodate the students’ lack of classrooms. In other public schools, students are accommodated in tents or other makeshift provisions.
An annual tax by the province or city or municipality within Metro Manila, at fixed rate of one percent on the assessed value of real property tax, is supposed to cover a Special Education Fund (SEF). Republic Act 5447 was passed in support of education priorities in local level. The SEF was envisioned to fund construction and repair for elementary school buildings, and payment and adjustment of salaries for teachers and other school-related activities.
In July 2016, Rep. Florida P. Robes revealed in a report where she alleged that in so many instances, many local government units have mismanaged the SEF. “There seems a lack of greater transparency or accountability in the utilization of SEF allocation.” She proposed a measure seeking to expand the coverage of SEF and to provide a regulatory mechanism in its utilization and administration in order to maximize the financial support to basic education.
I challenge the principal to call for the investigation of local government units vis-à-vis the utilization of SEF instead of filing charges against the teacher.