Senator Win Gatchalian urged the Department of Education (DepEd) to utilize its P4 billion allocation under the Bayanihan to Recover As One Act (Republic Act 11494) or Bayanihan 2 to invest in technology for teachers’ use.
Under Bayanihan 2, the P4 billion allocation aims to assist DepEd in putting up information technology (IT) and digital infrastructure, the implementation of digital education, and the use of alternative learning modalities, including the printing and delivery of self-learning modules.
In a Senate panel hearing on the preparations for the October 5 class opening, DepEd Undersecretary for Finance Annalyn Sevilla explained that they are waiting for the Department of Budget and Management’s (DBM) official communications on the availability of the P4 billion-fund before the department makes its implementation guidelines.
The DepEd official also explained that considering the funds’ limitation, the department has to decide on what items to prioritize, whether the funds will go to teachers’ laptops, self-learning modules, or other items.
“I would strongly suggest to allocate that (P4 billion) to our teachers, especially in technology that our teachers can use even after the COVID-19 pandemic,” Gatchalian said during the hearing.
The Bayanihan 2 also contains other provisions to support the implementation of the Basic Education Learning Continuity Plan (BE-LCP). These include the provision of loan assistance, subsidies, discounts and grants for the purchase of distance learning tools, including computers, laptops, tablets and other information and communications technology (ICT) devices.
The law also authorizes the utilization of a portion of the Special Education Fund (SEF) of local government units (LGUs) to support the use of alternative learning modalities, digital education, and digital infrastructure. Under Bayanihan 2, the SEF can also be used for safe schools infrastructure, equipment, and facilities, including handwashing stations. Public health supplies such as soap, alcohol, sanitizers, thermometers, face masks, face shields, and other disinfecting solutions can also be purchased under the SEF.
“Ang modernisasyon sa ating sistema ng edukasyon, tulad ng mas malawak na paggamit ng teknolohiya para sa pagtuturo at sa pag-aaral, ay bahagi ng pagbangon ng ating mga paaralan mula sa pinsalang dulot ng COVID-19. Sa tulong ng Bayanihan 2, mapapaigting natin ang modernisasyon ng ating mga paaralan, maaabot natin ang mas maraming mag-aaral, at maipagpapatuloy natin ang edukasyon sa ligtas na paraan,” Gatchalian added.
Gatchalian is the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture.