/ 4 February 2021

THE ALLIANCE of Concerned Teachers urged the Department of Budget and Management to address the “grave insufficiency of state subsidy to the government’s distance learning program” and funding shortages that deprived employees of the Department of Education of prompt release of just benefits.

In a letter to DBM sent on Tuesday, the group pressed for the need to adopt a supplementary budget to education, given the P11 billion slash in the 2021 budget.

ACT further said that the problems that met learners and teachers in the 1st grading period of the school year and the worsening crisis in education is due to the “poorly-funded and ill-equipped distance learning program.”

“The Constitution mandates for the grant of the highest budgetary allocation to education for the purpose of ensuring the delivery of accessible and quality education to the youth. The government is sorely failing on this aspect as obviously, there is a serious crisis on the access to and quality of education amid the pandemic. Instead of prioritizing its wars, we urge the government to put more value in salvaging the crippled state of our education,” Raymond Basilio, the group’s secretary general, said.

The DBM proposed a P568 billion budget for the Department of Education for 2021 but was only allotted P556 billion in the government’s approved budget. Only P15 billion was allotted for the production of modules compared to the agency’s estimate of at least P50 billion.

P3 billion was reduced from the agency’s Computerization Program which was set to provide laptops and gadgets for distance learning; P13 billion was taken from the Basic Education Facilities which will affect the installation of health facilities and additional classrooms needed for the resumption of safe face-to-face classes; while P605 million was deducted in the budget for hiring new school personnel.

The 2021 budget also only provided P1,000 internet allowance for teachers for the whole year, incorporated in the increased annual cash allowance from P3,500 to P5,000.

“We turn to DBM to once and for all resolve the funding problems for the grant of benefits to teachers and education support personnel, which have been weighing heavily on our education workers’ economic state and pulling down on their morale. We were always told that our demand for P1,500 internet allowance cannot be granted due to lack of funding and legal basis. These are concerns that the DBM and President Duterte can easily remedy if only they would give education enough importance,” Basilio said.

He lamented that DepEd employees only received P6,190 in Service Recognition Pay for 2020 which is significantly lower than the ordered grant of P10,000. He also cited the overly delayed approval of the 2019 Performance-based Bonus of DepEd employees.