Go pushes for expanded use of Special EducationPosted on
MANILA — Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go on Friday pushed for the passage of a measure that would expand the application of the Special Education Fund (SEF), giving local government units (LGUs) the flexibility to boost their support to local public schools and facilitate the transition to “blended learning” amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
In pushing for Senate Bill (SB) 396, Go noted that under the Local Government Code (Republic Act 7160), the SEF was created to provide local school boards with enough guaranteed funding for education-related expenses.
However, because of restrictions imposed on the use of the SEF, he said LGUs, especially the poorer ones, are unduly hampered in providing for the other needs of their local public education system, such as the provision of school supplies and benefits and training for teachers.
Under Section 272 of RA 7160, local school boards may only use the SEF for “operation and maintenance of public schools, construction and repair of school buildings, facilities and equipment, educational research, purchase of books and periodicals, and sports development.”
“My proposed bill aims to solve this problem by expanding the scope of the SEF. Under this bill, it may now be used for, among others, payment of salaries and benefits of teaching and non-teaching personnel, competency training, and operation of alternative learning systems,” Go said in a public hearing conducted by the Senate Committee on Local Government.
“Apart from this, the flexibility afforded by this measure to LGUs will facilitate our ongoing transition to the digital age, where there is a growing need to provide our students with modern tools to remain globally competitive. It will also render the public education system more flexible to implement alternative modes of learning or blended learning,” he added.
Once enacted into law, SB 396 will amend Section 272 of RA 7160 to include the construction and repair of libraries; payment of salaries, allowances and other benefits of teaching and non-teaching personnel; competency training for teaching personnel; operation of the Alternative Learning System (ALS), including payment of salaries, allowances and other benefits of ALS facilitator; and the purchase of teaching aids and other instructional materials within the scope of ESF allocation.
Moreover, Go said SB 396 is in line with the objectives of the “Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa” (BP2) Program.
Since tuition is already free, he said one of the factors why students from poor LGUs flock to metropolitan areas, such as Metro Manila, Davao, and Cebu, is the knowledge that rich LGUs would provide them with free school supplies and other educational materials.
“Sa tulong ng panukalang ito, mabibigyan po natin ng sapat na kakayahan ang mga LGU na mapunan ang pangangailangang pang-edukasyon ng kanilang mga nasasakupan, para di na nila kailangang umalis pa sa kanilang mga probinsya para lang makapag-aral sa mga metro cities (With the help of this measure, LGUs would be given the capability to sufficiently address the educational needs of their constituents, so that they no longer need to leave their provinces to study in metro cities),” Go said.
“And to emphasize: we are not giving LGUs more money. What we are giving them -– through this measure -– is more flexibility on how they can use the SEF. In return, what we ask from our LGUs is to ensure that every peso from the SEF counts and to make sure that the funds from the SEF are spent wisely for our children and the public”. –PNA