By Merlina Hernando-Malipot
While the Department of Education (DepEd) will continue to receive the highest share in the national budget as mandated by the Constitution, Education Secretary Leonor Briones said that “the resources are never enough.”
During an appreciation program organized by DepEd to express gratitude to its partners and stakeholders for their continued support in basic education programs and projects, Briones noted that DepEd’s resources are still insufficient given that there are 26.6 million learners that increase every year; nearly 700,000 teachers; and thousands of administrative employees under the country’s largest bureaucracy.
Earlier, President Rodrigo Duterte signed the P3.8-trillion 2018 national budget into law that puts a high premium on education through a P553.31 billion budget allocation.
DepEd, through the External Partnerships Service (EPS), held an appreciation program at the Central Office’s Bulwagan ng Karunungan, recently where a total of 209 partners from the private and government sectors were honored “for their valuable contribution and unwavering support in the delivery of quality, accessible, relevant, and liberating basic education for the Filipino learners.”
The DepEd partners were given recognition for their “multi-component projects” on education, assistance on school facilities improvement, provision of support packages for information and technology (IT), and support packages for teachers and learners for the year 2017. Government and community partners, as well as the partners for rehabilitation of Marawi schools, were also recognized.
“We should be the ones to stand and bow before all of you for helping us out in this gigantic task of providing basic education to our learners,” said Briones who graced the occasion and personally thanked the partners.
“We, in the Department, are very fortunate because in our culture – our Asian culture – education is always considered as a noble undertaking, and it is always a preferred area of assistance for business, for churches, and civil society…it is always the first choice,” Briones said. “And we do everything, we exert all efforts to be deserving, to be accountable, and most of all, to be grateful for such assistance,” she added.
Briones also mentioned the various challenges in education – including the implementation of the Senior High School (SHS) Program; the occurrence of natural disasters, the Indigenous Peoples’ Education (IPEd), and the need to provide public schools computers and laboratories given the rapidly changing technology to which the learners should be attuned.
Partners who have taken interest in training teachers and learners were also acknowledged. However, Briones cited the need to focus on research, financial literacy, and robotics. She also called for continuous contributions in the improvement of the curricula, particularly on drug prevention, gender and reproductive health programs, human rights, and global citizenship.
Meanwhile, DepEd Undersecretary for Planning and Regional Operations Jesus Mateo said that the department “cannot simply address the multitude of challenges confronting basic education without the help and support” of its partners.
Undersecretary for Legislative Affairs, External Partnerships, and School Sports Tonisito Umali also lauded the department’s partners as he reported their contribution for education. As of September 30, 2017, he noted that DepEd has “already generated resources amounting to P8.2 billion, surpassing the amount that we have raised in 2015.” The said amount, he explained, includes equipment, facilities, structures, school buildings, and man-hour services which totalled P7.9 billion in 2015 and rose to P9.8 billion in 2016.
Umali also ensured that the DepEd’s EPS “will fast-track the partners’ needs in terms of the timely processing of documents and technical requirements through the establishment of working groups” as he committed “a more vibrant, and a more efficient and effective facilitation of all the partnership programs.”