Senator Bam Aquino urged the Department of Education (DepEd) to address its underspending to speed up delivery of needed learning materials to millions of primary and secondary students in the country.
“The DepEd needs to be more efficient in its delivery, which can hamper the delivery of learning materials and other needs to our students,” said Aquino, vice chairman of the Committee on Finance, during the hearing for the DepEd’s P613.1 billion budget for 2018.
“There is money budgeted but not spent. This means the Filipino people aren’t receiving all the learning materials and education services the government can provide,” the legislator emphasized.
“For a student, it doesn’t matter if there is a lack of funds, or inefficiency in spending the funds, parehas lang yan sa kanya, wala pa rin ang mga libro at kagamitan,” the lawmaker added.
Based on briefing materials submitted by DepEd to the lawmaker, the agency has completed only 3.65 percent obligation in relation to appropriation for learning resources such as textbooks, Science and Math equipment, computerization and library for 2017.
“Sayang naman ang mga kagamitan, gaya ng libro at iba pang materyales na mabibigay sana natin sa mga estudyante upang suportahan ang kanilang pag-aaral. That is almost 14 billion pesos worth of learning materials not delivered to our students and teachers,” said the youthful senator.
Also, the DepEd only released 30 percent of its P109-billion budget for classrooms, leaving the agency with P76 billion unspent for the construction of around 15,000 classrooms in 2017.
Responding to Aquino’s call, DepEd Sec. Leonor Briones vowed to catch up on their underspending and ensure their budget is maximized moving forward.
“We’ve been working to raise more money for education in the Philippines so let’s use the budget more efficiently and ensure we are investing as much as we can into the education of young Filipinos,” said Aquino.