Amid the nationwide celebration of the Local Government Month, Senator Win Gatchalian is pushing to strengthen the involvement of local government units (LGUs) in improving the delivery and quality of basic education.
The 21st Century School Boards Act (Senate Bill No. 155), which Gatchalian refiled as one of his priority measures for the 19th Congress, expands the local school board to involve other education stakeholders and relevant actors in the community. The measure adds extensive functions to the local school board to include the formulation of policies focusing on the quality of education. It also broadens the utilization of the Special Education Fund (SEF) to support the local school board’s expanded role.
The SEF is sourced from the additional one percent tax on real property, which is allotted by the Local Government Code (Republic Act No. 7160) to the local school boards for the operation and maintenance of public schools and construction and repair of school buildings.
“Marami na tayong ginawa upang tugunan ang mga isyu sa sektor ng edukasyon, ngunit hindi pa natin nabibigyan ng puwang ang ating mga komunidad upang makalahok nang lubos sa edukasyon ng ating mga kabataan. Sa pamamagitan ng panukalang batas na ito, mabibigyan natin ang ating mga LGU ng mahalagang papel sa paghahatid at pag-aangat ng kalidad ng edukasyon,” said Gatchalian.
Under the proposed measure, the success of reforms and programs introduced by the local school board will be measured using indicators such as the participation rate of students, number of dropouts and out-of-school youth, achievement scores measured by national tests or assessment tools, establishment of child development centers, support to special needs education, the Alternative Learning System (ALS), and the parent effectiveness service program.
Additional responsibilities to be assigned to the local school board include the introduction of timely, organized, and localized interventions in the delivery of basic education in times of calamities, disasters, and other emergencies that disrupt school activities. The local school board will also coordinate the implementation of the ALS program with the Department of Education (DepEd) at the city or municipal level.
The measure proposes to allow the use of the SEF for salaries of SEF-paid teachers and non-teaching personnel assigned to public elementary and secondary schools, salaries of pre-school teachers and capital outlay for pre-schools, operation and maintenance of ALS programs, teachers’ and non-teaching personnel’s honorarium and allowances for additional services rendered outside of regular school hours, among others.