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'Last leg' before K to 12: DepEd gets highest budget

MANILA, Philippines – As the government’s K to 12 program enters its “last leg,” Senator President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto said its full implementation will require huge investments, and this is what the government is doing.

The Department of Education (DepEd) budget, the biggest under the proposed 2015 National Expenditure Program, will also fund crucial initiatives, like buying lots for schools, implementing a feeding program, hiring more teachers, providing a million scholarships, and reaching out to out-of-school youth.

For all this, DepEd is seeking a P362.5-billion ($8.23 billion)* budget for 2015. Including the proposed budgets of its attached agencies, the department will effectively get P364.9 billion ($8.29 billion).

“Numbers don’t lie. The government is investing more money in education,” Recto said in a statement Wednesday, September 10.

Recto said the government’s education spending is "a combination of catching up with existing backlogs and frontloading for future needs.”

"Previous budgets were downpayments. The 2015 budget is a continuation of the installment plan,” he added.

DepEd’s budget – the biggest under the proposed 2015 National Expenditure Program – still allocated money to fund the basic necessities in education, now that student population in public schools is already at 20.9 million:

About P200 million ($4.55 million) will go to the purchase of school lots where DepEd can build more classrooms.

It also includes the creation of 39,066 teacher item positions, which will cost P9.35 billion ($212.65 million), and the purchase of 70 million learning materials (P3.46 billion or $78.69 million). (READ: Luistro: P25K minimum pay for teachers 'realistic')

Recto said 36,328 elementary schools “do not have a decent science laboratory.” About 7,733 science and math laboratory equipment packages (P4 billion or $90.97 million) will also be purchased under the 2015 budget.

In keeping up with the times, about 24,208 classrooms will also be equipped with computers, IT equipment, and even WiFi for P8.53 billion ($194.05 million).

Funding DepEd programs

The budget will also fund a feeding program for undernourished children, and the Abot-Alam Program, a 3-year initiative to reach millions of out-of-school youth in the country.

"We are adding a budget for nutrition to reach severely wasted and wasted children: 630,000 students in public schools for close to P1.4 billion ($31.85 million),” Education Secretary Armin Luistro said last Monday, September 8, during his department’s budget hearing at the House of Representatives.

DepEd’s 2015 budget for Abot Alam is at P1.97 billion ($44.8 million). (READ: DepEd 2014 target: Get 1M dropouts back to school)

Meanwhile, the Government Assistance to Students and Teachers in Private Education (GASTPE) program will get P8.4 billion ($191 million) for one million scholars. These are graduates of public elementary schools who pursued their secondary education in private schools.

For school year 2014-2015, DepEd opened 350,000 GATSPE slots and increased its subsidy from P6,500 to P7,500 ($147.79 to $170.53) for students outside Metro Manila. (READ: DepEd increases subsidy for students outside NCR)

As for the department’s biggest reform yet – the K to 12 program – P2.05 billion ($46.61 million) will be used to retool 160,000 teachers. Luistro said DepEd is "already at midpoint and trying to close the gaps” when it comes to K to 12.

The department recently completed the senior high school curriculum which will be implemented nationwide starting 2016. –

*US$1 : P44.05

Jee Y. Geronimo

Jee is part of Rappler's Central Desk, handling most of the world, science, and environment stories on the site. She enjoys listening to podcasts and K-pop, watching Asian dramas, and running long distances. She hopes to visit Israel someday to retrace the steps of her Savior.