The education sector gets a hefty augmentation of P6.436 billion in the General Appropriations Bill (GAB) for 2008 which the House of Representatives is expected to approve on third and final reading on November 13, 2007.
This was disclosed by Albay Representative Edcel C. Lagman, Chairman of the Committee on Appropriations.
According to Lagman, the budget of the Department of Education (Dep-Ed) was increased by P5.273 billion from an original allocation of P145.975 billion, while P1.162 billion was added to the outlay of State Universities and Colleges (SUCs).
The increase in Dep-Ed’s appropriation is broken down as follows:
- P1.720 billion for the construction and rehabilitation of more school buildings;
- P1.060 billion for additional teaching and non-teaching positions;
- P1.000 billion more for pre-school education in public elementary schools;
- P500 million for school furniture;
- P540 million for the payment of unpaid prior years teachers’ benefits under the Magna Carta for Public School Teachers;
- P200 million as additional outlay for medical, dental, optical and nursing services;
- P200 million for distance education programs in public secondary schools; and
- P53.288 million as additional PS and MOOE of secondary schools.
Lagman added that premium is accorded to pre-school education in public elementary schools to equalize opportunities of pupils from poor families who enter Grade 1 at a disadvantage because they do not have pre-school training unlike children of families who could afford private pre-school education.
“We are dismantling the dominance of elitist education in the country by starting to significantly fund pre-school education in the grassroots”, Lagman underscored.
In 1993 Lagman together with then Senator Ernesto Maceda, initiated the pilot funding of pre-school education with an appropriation of P100 million in the 1993 General Appropriations Act.
Subsequent outlays for the next 14 years were not enough until the proposed appropriation was pegged at P2.0 billion for next year.
With an increase of P1.0 billon, the total appropriation for pre-school education in 2008 will be P3.0 billion which will enable the program to graduate from the pilot stage in due time.
Lagman said the increase in the funds for school buildings and teaching positions will greatly ease the shortages in classrooms and teachers.
The augmentation in the budget of the SUCs is broken down as follows:
- P524 million for additional scholarships and financial assistance;
- P587 million for capital outlays; and
- P51 million for additional MOOE
Lagman stated that in the past decade, SUCs had no meaningful allocation for the construction and repair of academic buildings and facilities, while more scholarship grants in tertiary education are needed.