/ 9 February 2021

THE ALLIANCE of Concerned Teachers lauded the proposed P30-billion allocation for internet allowance of teachers and students in the Bayanihan 3 bill filed recently by House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco and Marikina 2nd District Representative Stella Luz Quimbo.

The group however said that more is needed to avert the learning crisis and prepare for the holding of classroom learning in 2022.

“Finally, some of our lawmakers have heeded the undeniably just clamor of teachers for P1,500 monthly internet allowance, which have been ignored in the Bayanihan 2 Law and the 2021 General Appropriations Act. However, other urgent needs of education should equally be addressed to avert the learning crisis,” Raymond Basilio, the group’s secretary general, said.

ACT proposed an additional P120 billion funding to basic public education in 2021 —  about P15 billion for the preparation for face-to-face learning in low-risk areas, P98 billion to fund the needs of distance learning and P7 billion for health protection and benefits of education front liners.

“Major reforms need to be done in the government’s poorly funded and ill-equipped learning continuity program given the growing number of learners at risk of dropping out under distance learning. This cannot continue for another year or two as the social costs would be too high if we would just wait for vaccines to become available for in-classroom learning to resume,” Basilio said.

He challenged the Duterte government to “roll out a clear plan on how safe and voluntary face-to-face classes can be implemented in low-risk areas for the rest of the school year and effected in a significant part of the country by 2022.”

He called for the restoration of the slashed P13 billion in the basic education facilities fund for this year to construct and retrofit classrooms and install necessary facilities in accordance with minimum health standards.

He said another P2 billion is needed to hire school nurses and purchase needed supplies for school safety.

“While the larger part of the country will have to remain under distance learning this year given the government’s failure to contain the pandemic and its snail-paced vaccination program, sufficient funding should be allotted for gadgets, internet connectivity, modules and other learning materials, and hiring of community tutors to teach learners most in need of adult guidance,” Basilio said.