The Department of Education will need an additional budget in the coming years as the sector copes with the changes brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Undersecretary Jesus Mateo on Wednesday.
"Sana po matulungan kami at masuportahan sa paglaki ng budget. Kasi po unang-una, hindi lang PS (personnel services) ang lalaki, kailangan magkaroon ng additional manpower hindi lang sa usapin ng guro pati 'yung susuporta sa guro [IT personnel] kasi mag-iiba talaga ang ating sitwasyon eh," Mateo said in a virtual Kapihan.
"Lalaki rin po 'yung communication expenses, sa katunayan nga po ngayong enrollment na isinasagawa natin, 'yung mga teacher po nagtatawag sa mga kanilang dating estudyante—regular phone, cellphone, o kaya nag-e-email. Siyempre may mga internet expenses po iyan," he added.
Taking care of the mental health of teachers and students should also be part of the new normal and must be funded too, according to the education official.
"We have to ensure yung mental health condition ng ating mga tao po. Kaya nararapat po na kailangan pa rin mag-increase ng manpower diyan o humanap ng mechanism to ensure that stable po mentally, spiritually, physically tayong lahat," Mateo said.
Looking at the big picture, the undersecretary said the internet connectivity and electrification programs of other government agencies in the country should be prioritized too to ensure equity in access to the blended forms of education.
School Year 2020-2021 will start on August 24 using "blended forms" of learning to ensure the welfare of over 27 million basic education students and 1.2 million teaching ang non-teaching personnel at public and private schools in the country, according to the DepEd.
President Rodrigo Duterte vowed to "scrape the bottom of the barrel" to fund the alternative forms of learning being proposed by the DepEd after initially saying that he will not allow the opening of classes until a COVID-19 vaccine becomes locally available. — Dona Magsino/RSJ, GMA News