MANILA– A lawmaker said Thursday he would seek additional funds for the Department of Education, which the agency could use in the printing of self-learning modules and distance learning as physical classes are barred amid the COVID-19 crisis.
“We’re filing a resolution to urge the appropriations committee to allocate additional budget. Maybe P20 billion to fund the full printing requirements of self-learning modules and to implement distance learning,” Bohol Rep. Ed Chatto said Thursday at a House of Representatives hearing on the DepEd’s proposed 2021 budget.
Negros Oriental Rep. Jocelyn Limkaichong, sponsor of the DepEd’s budget, said the department would need P40 billion to cover the printing of modules next year but only half was approved under the General Appropriations Bill.
Education Undersecretary Annalyn Sevilla earlier said some students may have to share self-learning modules next year due to lack of funding for the production of the materials.
Under the proposed 2021 budget, government allocated P606.5 billion for the DepEd, which is overseeing the shift of the country’s basic education system to distance learning due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
During the House deliberations, lawmakers also raised concerns over errors spotted in the self-learning modules, some of which have surfaced on social media and prompted the DepEd to launch a formal reporting system.
Camarines Sur Rep. Gabriel Bordado said he hoped the DepEd would get “additional experts who can check the modules.”
Limkaichong also defended the DepEd in the wake of complaints over unreliable internet connectivity disrupting online classes.
“Technically, it’s beyond the control of the DepEd. It lies with the [Department of Information and Communications Technology],” she said.
“The DepEd is also looking into tapping the telco players… to assist them with regards to better connectivity in the coming days,” she added.
Under distance learning, students are studying mostly from their homes through printed and digital modules, and online classes. These are supplemented by educational programs aired over television and radio.
In-person classes remain indefinitely banned as the country continues to deal with the threat of COVID-19, which has sickened over 346,000 in the country.
But President Rodrigo Duterte has allowed the conduct of in-person classes next year in areas with low-risk of COVID-19 transmission, assuming that a vaccine against the disease would be available by then.
— Report from RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News