PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte wants the education system under his administration to focus on anti-illegal drugs, sex education and climate change.
Aside from the proposed national budget for 2017, Education Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones presented to the House Committee on Appropriations the expectations of President Duterte on what he wants to achieve through the education system for the next six years.
First, he instructed the DepEd to strengthen the preventive drug education component in Science and Health by providing real-life lesson via alternative learning methods.
As part of his campaign against drugs, President Duterte wants to include drug education in the curriculum starting in Grade 4.
Second, Briones said, as the incidence of teenage pregnancies increases every year, President Duterte asked the department to focus on sex education.
Lastly, President Duterte also proposed the inclusion of climate change in the topics discussed in the schools in order to prepare students at their young age for the possible destructive natural calamities.
“President Duterte instructed us to give special emphasis on environmental awareness and disaster preparedness,” Briones said.
For 2017, the DepEd is proposing a P566.2 billion budget, or a 31.9 percent increase from this year’s budget. This includes the P23.9 billion automatic appropriations, which is the highest budget for an agency.
Briones said the DepEd asked for higher budget due to the launching of Grade 12 next year as part of the implementation of K to 12 program.
Among the targets of the DepEd for next year are the construction of 47,492 new classrooms with allocation of P65.4 billion; the hiring of 53,831 new teachers amounting to P15.5 billion, hiring of 13,266 non-teaching personnel for schools with allocation of P4 billion; procurement of 66,492 new chairs for a budget of P2.5 billion.
In support of K to 12 implementation, the DepEd needs budget for the procurement of 55.8 learning materials (P3.08 billion); 30,697 Information Communication Technology (ICT) (P6.9 billion); 7, 260 TechVoc tools and equipment (P7.3 billion); 8,833 Science and Math equipment packages (P4.5 billion) and establishment of 17,562 laboratories (P43.9 billion).
Briones acknowledged that the backlogs are among the challenges facing the department, but which they are addressing starting this year.
She expressed support to proposed restoration of the two-year validity of the budget to allow agencies to spend their money for continuing projects.
“The DBM has articulated that one year is too short, especially for construction projects. . . . Probably, we have to restore the two-year validity of the budget,” she said.