/ 21 October 2021

SENATOR Sherwin Gatchalian called on the Department of Education to ensure that funds for its computerization program will be used to procure computers for public schools.

The senator said that the department will receive a 94 percent budget hike for the computer program under the 2022 National Expenditure Program. The program will receive P11.65 billion from P6 billion this year.

In 2019 and 2020, DepEd was only able to disburse 27 percent of its appropriations under the computerization program.

While Gatchalian supports the budget hike, he emphasized that proper spending of funds is needed to ensure learning continuity through digital methods.

“Looking at the past experience of the department in terms of dispensing the budget on computerization, I’ve noted that it has some issues in terms of obligations and disbursement,” the chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture said.

A Commission on Audit report on DepEd said that only 7,555 or 16.29 percent out of the targeted 38,827 Information and Communications Technology packages were delivered in 2020.

The COA also flagged delays in the delivery of the packages, which ranged from 60-317 calendar days.

The approved budget for the contract for these packages was P2.37 billion.

State auditors noted that these delays adversely affected the objectives of enhancing the teaching-learning process and raising the ICT literacy of learners and educators.

In 2019, state auditors flagged supplier woes and the readiness of schools to receive ICT packages.

“We really have to pay attention to the suppliers if they can supply honestly because with P11 billion, DepEd’s hands will be full in terms of procuring all these equipment,” Gatchalian said.