Senate to probe classrooms, textbooks bocklog

THE Senate finance committee will ‘virtually investigate’ if the statement of President Benigno Aquino III last Monday on addressing classrooms and textbooks backlogs were real as it called ion the Department of Education (DepEd) for a performance audit on Thursday.

Senator Franklin Drilon said on Wednesday that DepEd, the agency with the highest budgetary allocation every year, will face the Senate finance committee to look into the P17 billion budgets for building and repair of classrooms throughout the country trumpeted by Aquino on his State of the Nation Address (SONA).

“We would like to hear from Education Secretary Armin Luistro if his agency has progressed on building the much-needed school buildings, especially in the provinces that experience acute classroom shortages,” said Drilon. “The President’s instruction in his latest State of the Nation Address (SONA) is clear: he wants to completely address by next year the classroom backlogs of 66,800 that we inherited from the past administration,” stressed Drilon.

In his SONA, Aquino said “Bago matapos ang susunod na taon, ubos na ang minana nating 66,800 na kakulangan sa silid-aralan. Ulitin ko po, next year pa po ‘yan; 40,000 pa lang ho this year. Ang minana po nating 2,573,212 na backlog sa upuan, tuluyan na rin nating matutugunan bago matapos ang 2012. Sa taon din pong ito, masisimot na rin ang 61.7 million na backlog sa textbook upang maabot na, sa wakas, ang one is to one ratio ng aklat sa mag-aaral.”

Drilon said the DepEd was allotted P238.8 billion this year in support of the Aquino administration’s bid to address the problems that have been hounding basic public education in the country.

This, he added, will increase by 22.6 percent or to about P292.7 billion in the P2.006-trilion proposed national budget which the Palace submitted to Congress on Tuesday.

Likewise, among the big items lodged under the DepEd’s budget which will be discussed include among others the P3.46 billion budget to hire teachers and P2.13 billion allotment to procure textbooks and teachers’ manuals, noted Drilon.

All these allocations, Drilon said, should work toward the attainment of the government’s reform agenda to provide quality education as a way to invest in the people.

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