As Congress deliberated the budget of the Department of Education (DepEd), public school teachers from different parts of the country took to social media to air their grievances and concerns, and to call the attention of lawmakers on issues such as the salary upgrading of teachers, filling up of shortages in learning needs, and doubling the budget of the education department.
“Today, from our classrooms, we held a social media rally to let the voices of our teachers be heard by our lawmakers. Hindi pwedeng tiisin lang ng mga guro at estudyante ang lugmok na kalagayan ng ating mga paaralan. (We, teachers and students, cannot just let the sorry state of our education and schools go unnoticed.) We need urgent and game-changing measures from the government to uplift teachers’ conditions and recover education from the learning crisis,” Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Philippines’s chairperson, Vladimer Quetua, said.
The teachers slammed DepEd’s failure to lay down plans on how to resolve the shortage of learning needs, including the construction of classrooms which, to this date, has more than 90,000 backlogs.
“Walang inilalatag na kongkretong plano kung paano pupunuan ang kakulangan kundi class shifting, pagkatok sa mga local government units at pagpahiram ng espasyo sa private schools. Hindi raw kayang itayo ang mga bagong klasrum sa loob ng isa o dalawang taon, eh kailan pa natin popondohan at ipapatayo ang mga ito?” Quetua pointed out.
(DepEd has not given any concrete plans on how to address classroom shortage other than class shifting, asking for help from the local government units, and borrowing spaces from private schools. They say that these new classrooms couldn’t be built within one or two years, but when are they going to fund and build them?)
They also questioned the unclear response on where the funds for the education department’s computerization program went. They also questioned the inability of DepEd to answer how they are ensuring inclusive and gender-sensitive education and the Alternative Learning System, and how there was no budget allocated for the Special Education sector.
“Amid all the problems in insufficient funding and inefficient administration by DepEd, it is exasperating how the agency repeatedly defended the allocation of P150 million confidential funds,” Quetua said.
“Kulang na nga ang pondo at hindi na nga nila magawa nang maayos ang kanilang trabaho, gagastos at sasawsaw pa sila sa gawain na walang kaugnayan sa pagresolba sa krisis sa edukasyon,” he added.
(The funds aren’t even enough and they can’t do their jobs efficiently, they will still insist on funding and allocating budget for activities that have nothing to do with resolving the education crisis.)
Meanwhile, DepEd Secretary and Vice President Sara Duterte said that she is deferring to Congress the decision on what to do with the confidential funds allocated for the Office of the Vice President (OVP) and DepEd.
This was after several lawmakers during the plenary debate questioned the allocation of confidential funds in the OVP and DepEd, which could’ve been allotted for other programs with no sufficient budget.
Marvin Joseph Ang is a news and creative writer who follows developments on politics, democracy, and popular culture. He advocates for a free press and national democracy. Follow him on Twitter at @marvs30ang for latest news and updates. The views expressed are his own.
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