Increase education budget to address classroom gap – ACT

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 17) — A lawmaker called for the doubling of education spending as a percentage of economic output to address the perennial classroom shortage.

Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) party-list Rep. France Castro on Friday urged the government to increase the education budget to 6% of the gross domestic product (GDP) from the current 2.6%-3.6% of GDP.

"In order for the Marcos-Duterte administration to address the severe classroom backlog and learning crisis in the country, it must allot a budget worth at least 6% of the GDP to education,” ACT Teachers party-list Rep. France Castro said.

In July 2022, the Makabayan bloc filed House Bill 1783 which seeks the highest budgetary priority to the education sector by setting aside an amount equivalent to at least 6% of the GDP.

According to the bill’s explanatory note, the country remains below the United Nations standard of allotting at least 6% of the GDP to education.

“According to World Bank statistics, the Philippines’ public expenditure for education never breached 4.4% from 1980 to 2020, and generally below the global average on most years from 1999 to 2019,” the bill read. “It is also among the worst countries in the Asia-Pacific region in terms of public expenditure for education.”

Education Undersecretary Epimaco Densing earlier said the classroom shortage was at 165,000 by the end of 2022.

READ: DepEd seeks other funding sources to close 165,000 classroom gap

The DepEd was given ₱15.6 billion to build 6,421 new classrooms this year. Densing said ₱100 billion is needed annually for the next seven years to fully address the classroom lack.

The Japanese government donated around ₱25.2 million to build a two-storey six-classroom elementary school building in Ilog, Negros Occidental.

Castro took a swipe at other budget items that in pointing out the need to fund education.

“Edukasyon dapat ang pangunahing pinaglalaanan ng pondo ng bayan, hindi charter change, intelligence at confidential funds, NTF-ELCAC o mga foreign trips,” Castro added.

[Translation: Education should be the main recipient of public funds, not Charter change, intelligence and confidential funds, NTF-ELCAC or foreign trips.]