MANILA, Philippines – As classes are set to resume in June, Kabataan Partylist Rep. Raymond ‘Mong’ Palatino today warned that the lack of education budget poses a threat to the school opening of public elementary and high schools, citing as additional problems massive shortages in textbooks, chairs, classrooms and teachers.
“The school opening in June will once again bring to light harsh education realities. The lack of education budget imperils a smooth school opening as shortages in textbooks, chairs, classrooms and teachers continue to plague basic education,” Palatino said.
The 2011 budget for basic education is P207.27 billion. It grew by 18.46% (P32 billion) from the 2010 basic education budget of P175 billion.
Palatino cited figures from the Department of Education (DepEd) which indicate that the boasted increase in its budget is still grossly insufficient in addressing the issue of shortages.
Palatino said that the education shortages will inevitably affect the quality of education the students will receive.
“The Aquino gov’t has yet to present a convincing programme to remedy the existing shortages of the education sector. How can basic education qualitatively function in the context of dire shortages? Students cannot properly learn if, in the first place, there are no sufficient classrooms to study in, chairs to seat on, teachers to learn from, and textbooks to read,” Palatino said.
Palatino furthered that budget woes force many public schools to pass the burden of making ends meet to the students. He said that despite DepEd’s voluntary pay policy, students and parents complain of dipping into their limited resources to pay for various fees used for the Parent-Teacher Association, books and materials, class requirements like film showings, school events, and so on.
In response to DepEd’s pronouncement that it is now girding to launch the K-12 program this school year, Palatino said that enforcing the plan will lead to “disaster” as requisites for its implementation have yet to be met.
“Ideally, added learning and training period in elementary and high school would be beneficial to students. The K-12 proposal, however, is rendered problematic by the context within which it is set to be implemented and the direction it intends to take,” Palatino said.
“Notwithstanding the education framework of K-12, DepEd just doesn’t have the necessary funds to to push through with the plan and fill in the lack of crucial education resources. K-12 in its current form is a very problematic plan. It spells disaster should DepEd insist on implementing it,” he said.
Palatino said that DepEd needs at least an additional P140.43 billion to eradicate the shortages, including funds for out-of-school youths.