(by Vergel Labesig)

THE ALLIANCE of Concerned Teachers expressed deep dismay and concern over the Department of Education’s justification for its request for confidential funds saying its focus on issues beyond its primary mandate only undermines the urgent and pressing needs of the education system.

The group issued the statement after DepEd claimed that 16 public high schools in the National Capital Region are sites for New People’s Army’s recruitment.

“We find DepEd’s rationale for seeking confidential funds feeble and questionable. The shortages are enormous, and these are the real issues plaguing our education system. It is absurd that DepEd Sec. Sara Duterte asserts that education is intertwined with national security while she fails to see that poor learners’ performance is directly interrelated with the classroom and other education shortages,” Vladimer Quetua, the group’s chairperson, said.

“Nasa 150,000 dagdag na classrooms ang kailangan para tugunan ang kakulangan habang nasa 13 million armchairs ang kulang para sa bilang ng enrollees ngayong taong panuruan. Kung tunay na nagmamalasakit ang DepEd sa seguridad ng mga mag-aaral, dapat binibigyan nito ng sapat na classrooms at learning materials. Patunay ang bumulaga sa aming lagay ng classrooms nitong class opening na hinati na sa gitna, nasa higit 50 pa ang mag-aaral sa isang klase,” Quetua added.

ACT reiterated its call for confidential funds to be rechanneled to resolve the learning crisis and address enormous shortages in classroom, teachers, education support personnel, and teaching and learning resources.

“Hindi kailangan ng DepEd ng pondo para sa confidential funds. Hindi trabaho ng ahensya ang national security. Hindi malulutas ng confidential funds ang lawak at lalim ng learning crisis. Malinaw na mas prayoridad ni VP Sara Duterte ang mag-function bilang NTF-ELCAC Vice Chair kaysa bilang DepEd Secretary,” Quetua said.