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Teachers’ group urges DepEd to fund P1,500 monthly internet allowance for educators

A teachers’ group on Thursday urged the Department of Education (DepEd) to provide educators with a P1, 500 monthly internet allowance as a remote learning approach is implemented this school year due to COVID-19.

The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) claimed that DepEd has "more than enough" budget to provide for the allowance, which would amount to P1.5 billion a month for nearly one million teachers.

“DepEd must fund this necessity that now plays key to its mandate to deliver education,” ACT Secretary General Raymond Basilio said in a statement.

“Internet connection is basic and vital for DepEd’s work-from-home arrangements and distance learning. Without it, teachers won’t be able to conduct meetings, enroll learners, submit forms and reports, hold classes, and monitor and assess students.”

According to ACT, DepEd's 2020 allocation for maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) is P95 billion, of which P30.6 billion is for school operations.

The group said that the funding needed for internet allowance would be only 17.4% of DepEd’s total MOOE and 54% of school operations budget.

“These figures prove that the granting of an internet allowance is completely doable as DepEd is sure to gain much from the savings in the utilities and supplies expenditures of schools and offices since the lockdown and the whole period when face-to-face reporting and classes will remain prohibited,” Basilio said.

GMA News Online has reached out to DepEd Undersecretary for Finance Annalyn Sevilla for comment.

Basilio criticized the department for “magnifying the meager P3,500 per year teaching supplies allowance to cover up its failure to provide for the necessities of distance learning.” For him, the amount would only cover up to two months of internet expenses.

He said teachers are still burdened by laptop repairs, cellphone load, and other expenses for crafting of teaching materials.

“It will further save on hefty training funds as only a P200–P300 cellphone load credits is allowed for disbursement to teacher-participants in webinars while the pre-pandemic allotment amounts to P1,500 per participant for venue and food,” Basillio noted.

“Budget for officials’ travels abroad should also be tapped as travel restrictions remain in place due to the pandemic. DepEd may also use its generated income from revolving funds like the service charges from private lending institutions that make use of the agency’s APDS (Automatic Payroll Deduction System),” he added.

ACT also suggested revenue sources at the school level such as penalties for lost DepEd-issued materials, fees for venue rentals, income generating projects, and donations from private stakeholders.

The group called on DepEd to "find ways and means, be creative and resourceful," saying educators and learners deserve nothing less from the government. — BM, GMA News