Teachers lament purchasing own laptops after COA flags distance learning budget deficiencies

August 4, 2022 - 2:36 PM
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An elementary teacher records her voice, reading a story book as the education department copes with distance learning amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Navotas, Metro Manila, Philippines, September 16, 2020. (Reuters/Eloisa Lopez)

Some teachers had to purchase their own laptops for their blended learning classes amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

They pointed this out in criticizing the Department of Education after it was flagged for purchasing P2.4 billion worth of purchase of laptops in 2021.

In its 2021 report, the Commission on Audit said that DepEd accepted the unit price of P58,300 for each laptop and procured 39,583 units in total.

This unit price was recommended by the Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM-PS).

State auditors, however, pointed out that the supposed number of laptops to be purchased was 68,500 units. The estimated cost per unit was also supposed to be at P35,046 only.

“Apparently, the supposed number of laptops to be procured of 68,500 units was significantly reduced to 39,583 units which was mainly due to the huge increase of estimated cost P35,046 to P58,300 anchored on the DBM-PS’ recommendation, which was duly accepted by the DepEd,” COA said.

State auditors also noted the following feedback about the laptops delivered in Metro Manila and the Cordillera Administrative Region:

  • Too slow because the processor is Intel Celeron, which is outdated; and
  • The price is too high based on the specifications as attached to the DepEd memorandum.

COA said that such a purchase deprived an estimated 28,917 teachers of their much-needed devices for the blended learning setup.

“The huge difference of P23,253.50 per unit price resulted in a significant decrease by 28,917 laptop computers, purportedly for distribution to intended recipient-teachers which could have helped them in performing their tasks in the blended learning setup,” the report said.

COA’s annual audit reports can be accessed and read via its official website at AAR National Government Agencies | Commission on Audit (coa.gov.ph).

RELATED: What does it mean when gov’t agencies earn COA’s unqualified opinion? 

Criticisms from teachers, Filipinos

Several teachers slammed DepEd for the audit finding. They remarked that they purchased the laptops themselves because they have not received anything from the government in the first place.

“Lahat kami na teacher dito sa school na tinuturuan namin ay galing sa sariling bulsa ang binili ng laptop. Yung iba sa amin nga na nakadalawang bili na dahil nasira na dahil naover used na sa work, haist!” o teacher said.

“Nasaan yung laptop po? Bumili naman kami ng sarili namin,” another commented.

“Nakakalungkot lang for us teachers na nasa laylayan, nasa school na to the extent we spent our own money to have better classroom, to have a better teaching and learning aids and materials tapos ganito lang mababasa mo,” another teacher pointed out.

Other Filipinos shared that they received free laptops but were disappointed at how ineffective they were.

“Nakatanggap po ako, natuwa pa ko at napa wow kase Dell ang brand and mukhang bagong-bago. Pagcheck ko naku po, Celeron. Napakabagal. Had to downgrade and uninstall startups dahil kung hindi, hindi mo talaga magagamit,” a teacher said.

Some Filipinos, meanwhile, said that the government could have purchased an entry-level gaming laptop or a new Macbook air within the P58,000 budget.

On Apple’s website, the new Macbook Air with M1 chip costs P57,990.

Other online users also criticized the poor choice of laptops with Celeron processors for blended learning.

“They open Google Chrome and Zoom at the same time and it’ll explode,” a Twitter user said.

Aside from the pricey laptops, COA also found a deficiency in the budget utilization of DepEd amounting to P4.527 billion.

The budget was intended for the implementation of the Basic Education Learning Continuity Plan, also referred to as the distance learning program for the school years 2020-2021 and 2021-2022.

RELATED: COA flags DepEd over P4.5 billion distance learning fund deficiencies