DepEd says request for additional SPED funds rejected

Sofia Tomacruz
DepEd says request for additional SPED funds rejected
However, ongoing and existing special education programs of the Department of Education will continue, says DepEd Undersecretary Annalyn Sevilla

MANILA, Philippines – The request of the Department of Education (DepEd) for an additional and dedicated fund for special education (SPED) programs in 2019 was rejected, Undersecretary Annalyn Sevilla said on Wednesday, August 8.

In a press conference, Sevilla said the DepEd had requested to include a special budget line item for SPED programs worth P562 million in its proposed 2019 budget, but that this was not considered by the Department of Budget Management (DBM).

“What we were requesting was to have a separate line item that we call special education program and that is not existing right now in the budget of DepEd,” she said.

Why DepEd wants a special budget item for SPED: Currently, funds for special education programs are included in the department’s budget for maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE). Sevilla said this may not always assure its priority as it is dependent on a school or principal’s prioritization and management of funds.

Although funding for SPED is included in the MOOE, Sevilla also said this was not enough to provide for additional faciltiies, equipment, and training in the proposed program. 

Asked why the special budget item was not considered, Sevilla told Rappler the DepEd did not know the specific basis as the level of funding for DepEd in 2019 was determined by the DBM. 

However, despite the absence of the specific budget item in the department’s proposed budget, Sevilla clarified this was only supplementary to the existing inclusive SPED program, which is ongoing and will continue.

“The [SPED] program is continuing, it is there, and we will still pursue and continue to implement the program. Kung mabibigyan sana ng (We just requested to get) additional resources for the program plus a separate budget item,” she said.

What programs were supposed to be funded? If the program was approved, it would have covered facilities, training of SPED teachers, developmental activities, equipment, and learning materials for students with special needs.

Development activities include camp and sports activities, skills training, and educational trips.

DepEd also said it planned to use funds to provide learners with equipment needed, such as hearing aids, braille materials, and eyeglasses.

Specialized programs based on the needs of special learners were also included in the program.

Sevilla also said programs for gifted and talented students were part of the proposed program.

Moving forward: DepEd said it would continue to look to the support of external partners to provide for activities and items included in the proposed program.

External support, Sevilla said, would include donations and partnerships with private individuals or companies as well as assistance from local government units.

In an interview with reporters, she added the proposed SPED program will also be among projects the DepEd will cite if Congress asks for programs it would prioritize with additional funds during budget hearings.

DepEd is scheduled to present its proposed budget to lawmakers in the House of Representatives on August 28. – Rappler.com

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Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs and is the lead reporter on the coronavirus pandemic. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter via @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.