MILITANT student group League of Filipino Students (LFS) on Monday decried the Department of Education’s (DepEd) proposed 2016 budget, saying it is not enough to address the current problems in basic education.
“Even without President Benigno Aquino’s K-to-12 program, DepEd’s budget for 2016 is not enough to address shortages in basic education like classrooms, teachers, textbooks, and water and sanitation facilities,” Charisse Bañez, the group’s spokesperson, said in a statement.
According to her, only P73.18 billion out of DepEd’s proposed P547.3 billion budget is allocated for the construction of 47,553 classrooms and workshops.
Classroom shortage stood at 209,539 as of school year 2014-2015.
Meanwhile, only P3.4 billion and P4 billion are appropriated for the procurement of school desks and furniture and school repairs respectively.
Bañez added that the spike in DepEd’s 2016 budget does not guarantee the Filipino youth’s right to free and mandatory basic education.
In fact, the rise in DepEd’s budget is in line with the full-swing privatization and commercialization of basic education under Aquino’s flagship K -to-12 program.
Bañez pointed out that the budget for the Government Assistance for Students and Teachers in Private Education (Gastpe) rose from P8.4 billion in 2015 to P9 billion in 2016.
The Aquino government also allocated an additional P12.8 billion for the K-to-12 senior high school (SHS) voucher system, also known as e-Gastpe (extended Gastpe).
“The P21.8 billion combined Gastpe and SHS voucher budget is a clear proof that the Aquino government is abandoning basic education to big businessmen operating private schools. This is a gross violation of the government’s constitutional duty to provide free and mandatory basic education,” Bañez said.
Based on the data from DepEd, about 2 million students are expected to enroll in senior high in June 2016.
However, only 800,000 to 1 million will be accepted into public high schools.
The LFS’ own study has revealed that only 2 out of 10 existing public schools in Metro Manila will offer senior high. Key cities like Caloocan, Makati and San Juan still do not have public senior high schools barely a year into the full implementation of K to 12.
The remaining 1 to 1.2 million will be forced on enroll in private senior high schools using DepEd’s P8,750 to P22,500 SHS voucher.
Tuition fees in private senior high schools, however, range from P22,500 to as high as P70,000.
“It no longer comes as a surprise that private senior high schools are now sprouting like mushrooms, and that more and more capitalist-educators are venturing into K to 12. It is because the Aquino government is funneling billions of public funds straight to the pockets of private school owners,” Bañez said.