Gatchalian: DepEd’s 2022 budget should prioritize safe schools reopening

Gatchalian: DepEd’s 2022 budget should prioritize safe schools reopening

By Ernie Reyes

MANILA — The 2022 budget of the Department of Education (DepEd)
should prioritize the safe reopening of schools, Senator Win
Gatchalian said.

Under the 2022 National Expenditure Program (NEP), DepEd and its
attached agencies are allotted P630.8 billion which reflects a 6%
increase in ‘New Appropriations’ as compared to 2021.

Gatchalian pointed out, however, that P15 billion is still allocated
to Flexible Learning Options which includes the use of television,
radio, modules, and other modes of learning that do not require close
contact between the teacher and the learners.

The bulk of the budget will go mainly towards the printing of
self-learning modules.

Under the P5.4 billion-budget for Basic Education Facilities, only
P358 million has been allocated for Priority School Health Facilities.

This is for the construction, replacement, repair and rehabilitation
of water systems, hand washing facilities, toilet facilities, and
other health and sanitation-related facilities.

For School Year 2019-2020, 7,292 elementary, 2,082 junior high
schools, and 2,085 senior high schools still lacked access to basic
hand washing facilities.

“Of course, we all want to go back to face-to-face classes, but it
seems to me that it’s not reflected in the 2022 budget,” said
Gatchalian in a Senate panel hearing on the 2022 budget of DepEd and
its attached agencies.

The pilot run of limited face-to-face classes in 120 schools is set on
November 15. The expanded implementation is scheduled on March 7 next
year.

Gatchalian, however, urged DepEd to shorten the timeline on limited
face-to-face classes to allow participation from more schools.

The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and
Culture said he will propose amendments to DepEd’s 2022 proposed
budget to align with the new normal.

He also pointed out declines in the budgets of the Senior High School
Voucher Program (SHS-VP) and the Educational Service Contracting (ESC)
for junior high school, which he said would result in lower subsidies
and number of beneficiaries from private schools.

In 2021, the total budget for SHS-VP is P25.2 billion, which includes
P11.5 billion in unprogrammed appropriations. However, the proposed
2022 budget for SHS-VP is only P16.5 billion, P8.7 billion lower than
the budget for 2021.

Because of this, the number of the program’s beneficiaries is
estimated to be 33,883 lower compared to 2021.

“Ang pondo para sa edukasyon sa susunod na taon ay dapat nakatuon sa
pagbangon ng sektor mula sa epekto ng pandemya. At habang unti-unti
nating binubuksan ang mga paaralan, kailangang piinaghahandaan na rin
natin ang mas ligtas na pagbubukas ng mga ito para sa kapakanan ng mga
mag-aaral at mga guro,” Gatchalian said.

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