As lawmakers debate on the budget of several agencies today, teachers and other education advocacy groups will hold protest at the gates of Batasan and will bring their demand at the gallery of the House of Representatives.
“If the government is sincere enough to resolve the perennial problems of the education sector, it must move decisively and it must be reflected in the proposed budget for the 2012.” Said Benjo Basas, the group’s chairperson.
Basas added that while the DepEd is aware of these problems, yet the proposed budget is way below the need to answer the shortages of classrooms and other facilities and the very minimal compensation to teachers.
The group also noted that the 12-year basic education program (K-12), again did not get its rightful share of the department’s budget.
“The K-12 program, which is the flagship program of the Aquino government for education, did not get enough funds for its proper implementation. The current school year is a proof that we can never have a good kindergarten system without sufficient funding.” Basas explained.
Basas clarified that his group is behind DepEd in providing free and universal pre-school system but again challenged the government to adequately provide funding for its operation. “This would be the barometer of Aquino’s success or failure in education sector.” He furthered.
The group is very critical on the decision of the DepEd to prioritize the funding for GASTPE or Government Assistance for Students and Teachers of Private Education.
“The government allocated 6.3 billion for GASTPE while it only set aside 2.9 billion for hiring of 13, 000 teachers. If we slash even half of it, we could hire another 13, 000 teachers and that would mean a drastic 26, 000 response to a shortage of 99, 000 teachers for this school year and the figure increases annually.” Basas exclaimed.
The GASTPE which aims to decongest public schools by providing assistance in the form of subsidy to students of private schools has been getting bigger chunk of DepEd budget over the years.
“There must be an assessment of its impact. We call on the legislators to review the program and evaluate if this is a worthwhile spending. If not, then the funds must be allocated to a more meaningful and tangible investments like construction of classrooms and other facilities and hiring of teachers.”
TDC along with the Civil Society Network for Education Reforms (E-Net Philippines) and KAISA (Nagkakaisang Iskolar para sa Pamantasan at Sambayanan), a UP Diliman-based youth organization have been lobbying for higher state subsidy to education sector since the start of budget preparation of the agencies in February.
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