QUEZON CITY, September 3 2019 – The Department of Education (DepEd) on Tuesday reaffirmed that amid the significant developments in access to education, it is committed to ensuring that no one should be left behind as it pivots to quality basic education through its proposed 2020 budget for Fiscal Year 2020.

Before the Committee on Appropriations of the House of Representatives, DepEd Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones highlighted that years of investing in education has produced major improvements in access. Among these are the considerably improved Participation Rates in both primary and secondary levels, and the continuous decline in Drop-out Rate.

“Still, no one should be left behind. We continue to address the remaining access gaps in basic education, which should be more nuanced and responsive to the reasons why certain learners remain out of school,” the Education chief stated.

Among the major initiatives of DepEd to improve the dimension of learning outcomes are the ongoing review of the K to 12 curriculum, and the transformation of the National Educators’ Academy of the Philippines (NEAP) to enrich the capacities of teachers and to equip them for career progression.

“The role of teachers is crucial in ensuring that our learners are prepared for future opportunities and challenges,” she remarked.

The Secretary was also candid about the main challenges that still need to be addressed in the next three years: the need to improve the “low proficiency level” of learners in the National Achievement Test (NAT) due to the change in content with the introduction of the K to 12 curriculum; the new education trend brought about by the Fourth Industrial Revolution and artificial intelligence; and the need to address the wide range of contrasts within education systems, especially the so-called “Last Mile Schools.”

“Technological innovations enable more advanced countries to test the idea of robots conducting lectures in class, acting as teachers. The challenge is to keep the humanistic aspects of education.” Briones noted.

For FY 2020, the Department received an allocation of P551.7 billion, which comprises 82% share of the budget for the education sector. The major program for education access is the Basic Education Facilities with a total of P36 billion proposed budget. It includes the construction of school buildings and laboratories (P19.9 billion); classrooms for repair/rehabilitation (P6.5 billion for 18,579 classrooms); school furniture (P4.8 billion for 42,225 sets); electrification (P2 billion for 1,700 sites).

Other major programs for education access include Flexible Learning Options, including the Alternative Learning System (P600.6 million); Madrasah Education (P340.7 million); Government Assistance and Subsidies (P31.2 billion); School-Based Feeding Program (P6 billion); and Last Mile Schools Program (P1.5 billion).

Meanwhile, the Department’s major programs for education quality with the corresponding estimated proposed budget are: DepEd Computerization Program (P9 billion); human resource development with NEAP Transformation (P1.9 billion); learning tools and equipment (P2.7 billion); new school personnel (teaching) positions (P1.3 billion); and textbooks and other instructional materials (P963.6 million).

“We have made major strides in access to education. However, we continue to address access gaps through various programs such as School-Based Feeding, Alternative Learning System, and our new Last Mile Schools. We are in a position to now shift our focus on making major improvements in education quality,” Briones concluded.