By INA HERNANDO-MALIPOT
MANILA, Philippines — Education Secretary Armin Luistro on Friday disclosed the planned expenditures of the Department of Education (DepEd) for 2012 in the interest of transparency and to keep the public abreast of its plans to improve basic education in the country.
“More than just being transparent, this is also our way of assuring the public that we heed their call to close resource gaps and we are doing our mighty best to achieve our targets,” he said.
Luistro explained that the proposed P238.8 billion budget of the DepEd passed Congress and is up for discussion at the Senate. This represents a 15 percent increase from last year’s P207 billion.
“Of this amount, P324 million will go to DepEd attached agencies, P14.5 billion will pay for retirement and life insurance premiums of employees and P8.9 billion will go to the miscellaneous personnel benefits funds,” Luistro explained.
The DepEd chief added that of the remaining P215.1 billion, P167.1 billion is allocated for salaries of its personnel including P2.8 billion in additional annual allocation for the 13,000 new teacher items and funds for the scheduled increase in wages of government employees in 2012.
“Another P26.3 billion will be used for maintenance and other operating expenses that will pay for utilities and minor repair expenses of schools as well as for the purchase of supplies and materials like chalks and paper,” he added.
From this amount will come P6.3 billion that will increase the number of beneficiaries under the Government Assistance for Students and Teachers in Private Education (GASTPE). GASTPE, Luistro explained, provides alternative opportunities to deserving students whose families can afford to spend extra for private school tuition, and are selected from the graduating elementary students and are supported until they finish 4th year high school while complying with the minimum academic requirements of the program.
Luistro is also confident DepEd is on its way to meet yet another mandate of the president. “We are looking at the next two years to close our 66,800 shortage in classrooms and the almost 100,000 shortage in teachers,” he said. “By 2014, we will only construct classroom based on expected increase in student population,” he added
From the P21.7 billion in capital outlay, DepEd plans to use over P18 billion of its capital outlay to construct and repair a total of 15,000 classrooms and install 25,000 sanitation facilities.
“An additional 30,000 classrooms is expected to be constructed through public private partnership bringing the total target to 45,000 classrooms in just one year,” Luistro said.
The department, added Luistro, will also buy 2.5 million school seats to match the expected increase in student population when school year 2012-2013 starts in June next year. “Meanwhile, P1.8 billion of the outlay will be used for the procurement of IT equipment and textbooks, and to sustain the Internet connection of 7,000 public high schools nationwide,” he said.
Luistro said that part of the budget will also go to teachers. “Teachers’ basic pay will be increased to P18, 549 from P17,099 this year once the fourth and final wave of increases under the Salary Standardization Law III or SSL3 is put into effect next year. This wage hike will make their total monthly gross pay surpass the P20, 000 mark,” he said.