/ 15 May 2021

CONGRESS was again prodded to allot a bigger budget for the education sector to address concerns on distance learning.

The push came three days before the Senate and the House of Representatives resume session on Monday, May 17, 2021.

“Our education system has long been in crisis, and our teachers and learners have already suffered for so long. It is high time that the government take urgent action and provide concrete solutions to salvage the plummeting state of education in our country,” Benjamin Valbuena, one of the lead convenors of the Movement for Safe, Equitable, Quality, and Relevant Education, said.

He lamented that only P5.6 billion was allocated to the Department of Education for the purchase of distance learning essentials such as laptops, load and internet allowance, production and distribution of modules, and health and safety equipment for teachers.

“Isang malaking dagok sa morale ng ating mga guro at estudyante na sa kabila ng lahat ng kanilang mga hinaing at panawagan mula nakaraang taon, ay patuloy pa rin ang pikit-mata at kapos na pagtugon ng gobyerno sa tunay na pangangailangan ng edukasyon,” Valbuena said.

Valbuena’s group, in a letter to the Senate and the HOR, proposed a P120.38 billion budget for the safe delivery of accessible quality education. P98.5 billion was proposed to fund distance learning resources, with P26 billion allocated for distance learning devices for students and teachers; P20 billion for a P1,500 monthly internet allowance for teachers and P150 monthly data provision for 5 percent of students; P17.5 billion for the hiring of community tutors, and P35 billion for the printing of modules, activity sheets, and other learning materials.

The group added that P14.6 billion is needed to prepare for in-classroom learning, citing basic education facilities, hiring of 1 school nurse per DepEd district, and other health and safety equipment.

The group proposed P7.2 billion for health protection and benefits for education frontliners.