The Department of Education (DepEd) was told to tap the P4-billion funding in the Bayanihan to Recover as One law 2 to invest in information-technology tools for teachers upgrading to alternative learning modules.
Sen. Sherwin T. Gatchalian made the suggestion during a Senate hearing to assess preparations for the opening of classes on October 5.
Gatchalian, chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture, pointed out that under Bayanihan 2, the P4-billion fund was allocated to bankroll DepEd’s projects to put up information technology and digital infrastructure, implement digital education, and use alternative learning modalities, including the printing and delivery of self-learning modules.
During the Senate hearing, DepEd Undersecretary for Finance Annalyn Sevilla explained they were still waiting for the Department of Budget and Management’s (DBM) official communications on the availability of the P4-billion fund before the department makes its implementation guidelines.
Presiding over the Committee hearing Gatchalian’s panel was informed that considering the “funds limitation,” DepEd needs to decide on what items to prioritize, whether the funds will go to teachers’ laptops, self-learning modules, or other items.
Gatchalian, however, affirmed he would “strongly suggest to allocate that [P4 billion] to our teachers, especially in technology that our teachers can use even after the Covid-19 pandemic.”
He noted that the Bayanihan 2 law, likewise, contained provisions to support implementation of the Basic Education Learning Continuity Plan (BE-LCP), adding that these included provisions for “loan assistance, subsidies, discounts and grants for the purchase of distance learning tools, including computers, laptops, tablets and other information and communications technology [ICT] devices.”
Gatchalian affirmed that the law likewise authorized utilization of a portion of the Special Education Fund (SEF) of local government units (LGUs) to support use of alternative learning modalities, digital education, and digital infrastructure.
Under Bayanihan 2, he assured that the SEF can also be used for “safe schools” infrastructure, equipment, and facilities, including hand-washing stations, noting that public health supplies, such as soap, alcohol, sanitizers, thermometers, face masks, face shields, and other disinfecting solutions can also be purchased under the SEF.