About P40B needed for printing of school modules per school year, DepEd says

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 25) — The Department of Education (DepEd) said about P40 billion is needed per school year to be able to print self-learning modules as education sector shifts to its new normal.

During the Senate hearing on the proposed 2021 budget of the department, Sen. Francis Pangilinan asked DepEd how much budget is needed to be able to produce printed modules.

Education Usec. Annalyn Sevilla said assuming that the pandemic will continue, they will be needing P20 billion for the first two quarters of the upcoming school year, and P40 billion for its last two quarters and the first two quarters of school year 2021-2022.

Under the proposed P605.74 billion budget of DepEd, P15 billion was allotted for this purpose, with another P5 billion under unprogrammed funds.

The department added since the school year was only rescheduled from August to October, there were already printed modules good for one to two weeks that were already distributed to learners.

However, Education Sec. Leonor Briones said they intend to rationalize this to gradually lessen dependence on printed modules, despite being it being the preferred mode of learning for students and parents.

"We are gradually going to face that out because aside from the horrible impact on the environment, baka (maybe) we will be having books but no trees. It's more expensive to produce printed material than to transmit by radio or TV or by other means," she explained.

The health crisis led to implementation of alternative modes of learning to do away with the usual face-to-face setup. School year for basic education students will resume on October 5 after it was moved from August 24 due to President Rodrigo Duterte's order for a six-week postponement due to the pandemic.

Meanwhile, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian questioned the zero allocation for DepEd's special education (SPED) program despite the country having about 439,000 SPED students.

Under the 2021 budget of the department, budget for SPED was totally slashed from a P300 million budget in 2020.

Sevilla explained that the budget was used for the government's COVID-19 response so they were not able to use it this year as well. Briones also assured that schools have funds to cover SPED students.

However, Gatchalian appealed to revive the budget that will solely be used for these students since "it will be very difficult for them to fight for these funds" if they will rely on schools' regular funds.