SEN. Sherwin Gatchalian on Tuesday batted for the allocation of a bigger budget for the education sector next year to enable it to recover from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
He said the government should allocate 6 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) for the education sector, as proposed by the United Nations. For 2021, the Department of Education was allotted P759 billion, or 4 percent of the GDP.
The chairman of the Senate basic education committee also stressed the need for efficient funding at the local level to improve learner outcomes, ensuring coverage for vulnerable groups and adjusting the national budget to adapt to the “new normal.”
“We want to make sure the budget for the education sector is responsive to the new normal by rechanneling some of the programs to distance learning — increase the use of the internet and protect the health of our teachers and our school officials,” he said.
The senator stressed channeling resources to education is such an important ingredient to the success of learners.
He cited an analysis of the 2018 Program for International Student Assessment which showed the Philippines spends an estimated P8,474 per student aged 6-15 over the theoretical duration of their studies, lower than the expenses of other Southeast Asian countries per student.
Singapore, for instance, spends an estimated P109,060 per student. Learners there scored 549 in reading, placing second among 79 countries that participated in the global assessment in 2018. Filipino learners scored the lowest, 340.
To help allocate more resources at the local level, Gatchalian proposed the expanded use of the Special Education Fund (SEF) in Senate Bill 1579 or the 21st Century School Boards Act.
Under the measure, the expanded use of the SEF will cover salaries of public elementary and high school teachers, nonteaching, utility, and security personnel.