By Merlina Hernando-Malipot
The Department of Education (DepEd) maintained the need to provide its teachers and personnel with the necessary training and development programs for their personal and professional growth amid reports of alleged “extravagant” and “unnecessary” trainings, seminars and other planning and assessment activities being conducted nationwide.
Earlier, Commission on Audit (COA) called out the DepEd over its “irregular, unnecessary, excessive, and extravagant” spending in 2018 which involved P316.62 million spent on trainings and other activities allegedly held at resorts and tourist spots.
“The report concluded that all training activities were done in lavish venues when the location or venue of the activity happened to be in a tourist destination,” said Secretary Leonor Briones.
However, DepEd clarified that said training programs are “conducted in various locations all over the country to cater to the Department’s teaching and non-teaching personnel from its 47,000 schools in 223 schools divisions and 16 regions.”
DepEd added that the selection of venues and facilities is “approved only when it adheres to existing policies and guidelines on procurement, and with consideration to the need for prudence and economy in government service, suitability to the nature of activity, accessibility to the participants, and safety and security in the proposed location, among others.”
Meanwhile, DepEd underscored the need for trainings for its personnel. Based on the latest data, DepEd currently has approximately 900,000 teachers and 65,000 personnel.
DepEd noted that while its resident auditor stated in its observation report that around P312.1 million was spent on trainings, conventions, and seminar workshops hosted by DepEd Central Office from January to December 2017, the agency underscores that the “amount is equivalent to only 7.5% of its P4B annual budget for training and development programs.”
Likewise, DepEd also responded to the CoA report that the said activities were “conducted in lavish resorts and tourist spot locations” – emphasizing that agency “strictly adheres to the allowed daily training budget for each person which shall not exceed P2,000.”
The said amount, DepEd added, already “includes board and lodging, training fees, cost of handouts, supplies, materials, meals/snacks, and all other related training expenses.”
“Budget estimates are strictly in accordance with existing budgeting, accounting, procurement, and auditing rules and regulations,” DepEd added.
Meanwhile, Briones noted that she issued Office Order No. 2018-093 dated October 2018 entitled, “Venue of Activities of the Department of Education Central Office,” which directs all DepEd units to “exercise prudence, economy, and reasonableness in choosing venues for trainings/workshops.”
Briones noted that the said DepEd Order further instructs all units of the Central Office to conduct internal office activities within the Central Office premises only. “If not feasible, conduct of such activity in another venue shall require strong justification,” she ended.