Education advocates bat for inclusion of financial aid for students in 2022 budget

November 9, 2021 - 7:42 PM
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Grade 2 student Lynie Jhane Madrigal, answers learning materials at her home, as face-to-face classes are yet to resume amid coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Manila, Philippines, September 16, 2021. (Reuters/Lisa Marie David)

Two groups advocating for educational reforms called for financial support for teachers and students’ learning continuity in 2022.

The groups Aral Pilipinas Coalition and Student Aid Network raised this proposal in a virtual meeting with other civic organizations called People’s Budget Coalition on Tuesday.

The PBC is a community of civil society and people’s organizations that advocate for inclusive pandemic recovery through better spending of taxpayer’s money.

Their virtual press conference titled “Budget Natin, Dapat Makatao: Recasting the 2022 National Budget towards an Inclusive Recovery” discussed the proposals of different sectors of the country to be included in the General Appropriations Bill for next year.

For the education sector, Reg Sevilla Sibal of Aral Pilipinas Coalition stressed the need for financial assistance or “ayuda” for students amid the continued remote learning system in the country.

“Ayuda sa eskwela ang isa sa aming panawagan upang masuportahan ang mga mag-aaral sa pagpapatuloy ng kanilang pag-aaral sa pandemya,” Sibal said during the virtual press briefing.

She also stated that this financial aid will also reduce or prevent student dropouts in schools.

“Ito ay makakatulong upang hindi basta mag dropout ang mga bata. Education should never be a burden especially to our students. Dapat manatiling accessible and free ang kanilang edukasyon,” Sibal said.

This allocation will also help lessen the expenses of parents still reeling from the financial impact of the health and economic crisis.

“Sana hindi maipasa sa pamilyang Pilipino ang karagdagang gastos katulad ng pagpiprint ng module, pagloload ng ating internet data para lang makapasok sa ating online class o makapag download ng mga modules,” Sibal said.

Coleen Mañibo of Student Aid Network also made a similar call for “ayuda” for the students, citing how that they also bear the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.

“Kailangan din ng mga estudyante ng ayuda dahil lumolobo yung gastusin para sa gadget, para sa internet load at iba pa. Lalo na ngayon may mga paaralan ngayon na nagrerequire ng two-gadget policies lalo nap ag may examinatioin,” Mañibo said.

She lamented how the education sector, especially the students, became the “collateral damage” for the government’s failures in its pandemic response.

“As we all know, yung mga estudyante and buong education sector ang isa sa pinakanaapektuhan ng pandemya. So sinasabi nga natin no na naging collateral damage talaga ang mga estudyante dahil sa kapalpakan sa pagtugon dito sa pandemic,” Mañibo said.

Despite the education department being allocated with the highest budget, she pointed out that this was still not enough to finance the safe return of students to schools.

In PBC’s consolidated budget proposal that was presented, a total of P94,460,807,000 was being pushed for the education sector.

Here is the breakdown of the estimated expenditures where this money would be allocated for:

Screenshot of the budget proposal of the Aral Pilipinas Coalition and Student Aid Network captured on November 9, 2021

Both APC and the Student Aid Network also proposed the need to recruit para-teachers and provide additional allowances and stipends to teachers and learners.

“We propose to give more support to learners and teachers by recruiting para-teachers, providing transport and load allowances to teachers, and granting stipends to learners,” they said.

Last September, the House of Representatives passed on third and final reading its version of the P5.024 trillion national budget for next year, touted as the highest budget proposal in history.

Among the controversial components of the budget proposal was the allocation for National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).

The Senate Committee on Finance on November 9 slashed the budget for NTF-ELCAC from P24 billion to P4 billion only.

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