MANILA - Education Secretary Leonor Briones on Friday reminded public school teachers to look into their respective school's situation first before soliciting funds for school supplies like bond paper and printer ink.
Briones issued the reminder as they present the Department of Education's proposed 2021 budget amounting to P605.74 billion.
According to Briones, some groups have asked her opinion about the so-called "bond paper campaign."
"Ang advice ko sa kanila, find out first the extent of the shortage kasi nagda-download kami ng pera…We try to advice those who ask us about this possibility to check on the status of their school themselves…Kailangan sigurong tingnan nang maayos which schools are recipients and which schools are lacking," she said.
Briones said the DepEd has allotted P10 billion for the printing of modules.
Senator Francis Pangilinan at the budget hearing called the attention of Briones regarding the solicitations supposedly being done by some teachers.
Briones also advices the public not to entertain groups asking for donations using her name.
"There are groups that are also writing contractors, saying that Secretary Briones is raising funds for these famous modules or for what these schools needs. Tapos may bank accounts. These bank accounts are legitimate et cetera,” she said.
"It’s our policy never to accept cash. Especially, I don’t use my name for activities like that…Mga six-figures pa 'yung hinihingi. I would like to warn our very generous and concerned citizens, do not pay attention especially if it is request for cash," Briones added.
Briones said DepEd is now also encouraging homeschooling but only, if the mother is the one educating her children.
Senators, meanwhile, took turns in suggesting possible steps to realign portions of the DepEd budget to better use.
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian for one, suggested to realign the P12 billion budget allotted for the construction of school buildings in favor of the other pressing needs of the education sector for school year 2020-2021.
Another that can be realigned according to Gatchalian is the P2.9 billion travelling expense allowance for school officials.
“This is about P15 billion...This is more, just a suggestion for your study and perusal if we can use this amount to improve on some of the amounts worked on the other programs,” Gatchalian said.
Education Undersecretary Anne Sevilla, however, quickly appealed to Gatchalian to reconsider the realignment of those funds, as teachers all the more need to travel during this period to visit their students.
Briones, for her part, said: "The point about travel is worthy of consideration I believe domestic travel.”
“On our part maybe we can look at other parts of the budget which needs to be reconsidered…School building, that’s a decision to take. There will be intense debate with other stakeholders…Construction of classrooms, because it creates jobs, it’s for economic recovery,” she also said.
Senator Nancy Binay also urged her colleagues to support DepEd's appeal to telcos not to charge teachers with data connectivity while accessing the agency’s uploaded lessons through its website "DepEd Commons."
Senator Risa Hontiveros, on the other hand, inquired about the students and teachers gadget requirements.
“I learned that 93 percent of public schools have received devices from the Department of Education (DepEd). Is this adequate for the needs of each school?” Hontiveros asked.
Undersecretary Alain del Pascua said the DepEd will require a P27 billion fund for them to be able to give each teacher a laptop.
The country has 900,000 public school teachers, according to Briones.
Another P175 billions is needed to equip each learner with a laptop.
Del Pascua admitted DepEd cannot deliver on both requirements.
Senator Pia Cayetano joined Gatchalian in asking about DepEd's preparations for the possibility of reverting to face-to-face classes, especially in areas without any recorded COVID-19 cases.
“I also shared my concerns about the need to start planning, and even seriously recommending and considering limited, very limited and specifically designed face to face with staggered presence. In far flung areas, COVID didn’t even start in those areas. This is the one time that they will even be given an advantage," Cayetano said.
The DepEd's proposed budget was approved by the committee after almost seven hours of hearing.
The agency’s proposed budget was deemed submitted to the plenary.