Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte on Monday, urged local government leaders to prioritize investments in education for the benefit of the people.
Duterte said local government units (LGUs) now have the administrative autonomy to identify priority programs and are empowered to determine their own economic development under the Mandanas-Garcia ruling of the Supreme Court.
“It has always been said that education is the greatest equalizer. In education, no one is poor, no one is rich—they are all graduates,” Duterte said in Filipino.
Building classrooms and school infrastructures, recruiting more teachers, institutionalizing the blended learning program, and the use of available technologies are part of Duterte’s g plans to address the Department of Education’s (DepEd) existing issues.
“There is a need to build, repair, and maintain school infrastructures to accommodate the growing number of learners all over the Philippines. Today, let me take this opportunity to reiterate the urgency of appropriate action and collaboration between the Department of Education stakeholders from the local government units, the private sector, and international partners,” Duterte said.
In her Basic Education Report on January 30, 2023, Duterte said DepEd’s latest inventory showed there are 327,851 public school buildings in the country. Out of these school buildings, only 104,536 are in good condition.
“Due to various reasons, there are also 100,072 school buildings that need minor repairs; 89,252 require major repairs, and 21,727 are set for condemnation. Our schools are not calamity-proof,” Duterte said in her report.
The Vice President also cited significant roadblocks to the country’s education infrastructure program, notably earthquakes, typhoons, landslides, flooding, and armed conflicts.
Duterte said the DepEd, the House of Representatives, and the Senate are currently in discussions to update the Magna Carta for Public School Teachers.
“DepEd is also reaching out to the Department of Health (DOH) to ensure that employees enjoy free health check-ups,” Duterte added.
On the benefits of DepEd employees, Duterte said the agency and the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) have an ongoing commitment for a monthly updating on the deliverables for the implementation of benefits for the teaching and non-teaching staff.
“GSIS acknowledge all our demands and we tell them that we should have a coordination meeting every month until we settle the accounts of our teaching and non-teaching personnel at the Department of Education, Duterte said.
She also said the DepEd is reaching out to different groups of lawyers to provide free legal advice for the teaching and non-teaching staff of the department.
“We are talking to groups of lawyers that if possible, will help us to give free legal advice to our teachers before they sign a contract of loan obligation or debt,” Duterte added.
“It is very important that they understand what contract they are signing, and that a lawyer can explain to them what will happen if they default in paying their loan obligations. That’s why we talked and are looking for partners nationwide so that our teachers have someone to go to so they can consult on what they are signing,” she added.