/ 6 October 2020

MEMBERS of ACT Teachers partylist headed by Rep. France Castro along with various groups under the People’s Budget Campaign held a picket protest in front of Congress and demanded an additional P216 billion budget to make schools safe and effective in the midst of the Covid19 pandemic.

Included in their proposed budget are P19.15 billion to provide every teacher with a laptop, a P1,500 monthly internet load allowance, and P51.4 billion for printing of education modules for 71 percent of students who prefer modular learning.

To make schools safer for the impending return of face-to-face classes in 2021, the group is also asking Congress to allot P120 million to install water facilities in 3,628 schools without water, P500 million for protective personal equipment, and P940 million to employ one nurse per school district.

Other items included in their proposal are P450 million for annual medical check-ups of teach-ers, a P700 million for mass testing of one percent of teachers, P230 million for 50 alcohol dis-pensers per school district, and P2 billion for overtime/overload pay.

At the same time, Castro urged the Duterte administration to honor the teachers with adequate funds for safe conduct of classes.

“Our teachers have been at the forefront in ensuring the delivery of education to our youth amid the pandemic. Teachers are frontliners too. In the midst of the Covid19 pandemic, teachers look for funds to be able to still deliver their duties amid health risks and lack of funds from the gov-ernment,” Castro said.

“Private school teachers are not spared. Reports that almost 1,000 private schools have closed with at least 100,000 private school teachers affected by the pandemic,” she added.

“With the ongoing budget deliberations in Congress, we must ensure that adequate funds are al-located in critical inputs for education such as instructional materials, teaching expenses will be provided by the government and every child’s right to access to quality and safe education will be respected.”

Castro reiterated the group’s plea to Congress to re-channel the budget for the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict and allocate it to restore the cuts in the budget for vital programs in education.