Teachers protest as House tackles DepEd budget

(From ACT Facebook)

SOME members of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) held a protest action Tuesday, September 15, 2020, as the House of Representatives committee on appropriations discussed the proposed 2021 budget of the Department of Education (DepEd).

DepEd is seeking a budget of P606.5 billion for 2021, the biggest allocation in the proposed 2021 National Expenditures Program.

Of this amount, 93.8 percent or P568.7 billion are new appropriations while the remaining 6.2 percent or P37.8 billion are automatic appropriations.

By expense class, personal services (PS) continues to get the majority share with P475.4 billion or 78.4 percent, followed by maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) with P98.7 billion or 6.3 percent, and capital outlay with P32.4 billion or 5.3 percent.

DepEd Undescretary Annalyn Sevilla said that the agency has no allocation for para-teachers assigned to far-flung areas where there is a shortage or absence of a professional teacher.

"The question on whether there is 2021 budget line item for hiring of para-teachers, there is none," Sevilla said.

"What we have is the creation of the regular teaching position and that is what we are planning to do next year. It is usually chargeable to PS savings given by DBM (Department of Budget and Management). There is no budget," she added.

DepEd Undersecretary for Planning and Field Operations Jesus Mateo assured the committee that they were finalizing the agency's draft policy governing the hiring of para-teachers.

Mateo said the source of funding for hiring para-teachers are the schools' MOOE and the Special Education Fund SEF.

“The source of funding on the draft policy will be the school MOEE if there is still school MOEE left and the other is Special Education Fund,” Mateo said.

Outside Congress, members of ACT renewed their call on the House of Representatives to "substantially increase" the agency's budget for 2021.

The group demanded that the House provide the following funding for the education sector:

  • P16.9 billion for the funding of a 1:1 nurse to school ratio;
  • P3.5 billion in order to provide 1,000 sets of personal protective equipment to every school district;
  • P9.7 billion for minimum safety requirements such as alcohol, disposable masks, face shields and foot bath;
  • P7 billion to cover RT-PCR tests every 14 days for 10 percent of education workers;
  • P10 billion medical treatment fund for DepEd employees who contract coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19);
  • P27 billion in order to provide a laptop to every teacher;
  • P15 billion to grant P1,500 internet allowance to all educators; and
  • P33.8 billion to provide gadgets to the poorest 5.0 percent of the estimated 27.7 million estimated learners in basic education.

As of September 14, DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones said enrollment had reached 24.3 million, or 87.6 percent of the previous school year’s total enrollment.

Of the 24.3 million enrollees, 22.24 million have signed up in public schools while 2.08 million are enrolled in private schools.

Public school enrollment, so far, constitutes 98.528 percent of last year’s enrollment while private school enrollment comprises only about 47 percent of last year’s enrollment. (Jove Moya/SunStar Philippines)


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