DepEd bullish in filling deficits by 2013

By Alexander Villafania

PASIG CITY, METRO MANILA—With Philippine President Benigno Aquino III pushing education at the forefront of his report during his State of the Nation Address (SONA), the Department of Education (DepEd) is in for a huge task of filling up the deficits in public schools before the next school year starts.

Despite the short period left, DepEd still have enough budget and manpower to fill the shortage in teachers, textbooks, and classrooms, said secretary Armin Luistro.

The department already built approximately 20,000 classrooms, with another 20,000 being finished during the remainder of the year. This would fill up two-thirds of the total deficit of 60,000 classrooms nationwide, said the official.

“The next 20,000 units will be completed by next year both through the availability of funds for 2013, as well as more private and local government unit (LGU) support,” Luistro said.

For the textbooks, he promised that the DepEd will be able to complete the shortages and be able to get all 61.7 million textbooks by year-end.

The shortage for public school teachers has reached 132,564. To augment this, Luistro said they’ll be hiring 61,000 education graduates this year.

DepEd is working with the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) to provide training for part-time teachers, especially graduates who can teach major subjects, such as English, Mathematics, and Science.

Currently, there were about 500,000 public school teachers (362,000 in elementary and 146,000 in high school) during school year 2010 to 2011.

“We’re also talking with the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and other colleges to update their BS Education curricula to accommodate the requirements of the K+12 program as we’d be needing more quality teachers,” Luistro said.

The K+12 program, implemented this year, adds another two years to the current 10-year basic education system.

“Of course, we still expect new requirements every year but as the DepEd budget is being addressed, so will the shortages,” Luistro said.

The DepEd budget for 2012 is P238.8 billion but President Aquino during SONA said that he will increase it P292.7 billion for 2013—still the lion’s share for any government office.

This, however, will need approval from Congress during the next budget hearing.

***

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