DepEd admits early pregnancy, lack of teachers remain a serious concern

Maris Federez   •   September 13, 2019   •   690

File photo of a public school teacher

The budget allocated for the Department of Education (DepEd) for the year 2020 is around P551-billion.

This is higher than the current department budget.

At Thursday’s Senate hearing on the proposed DepEd budget, as senators questioned the country’s quality of education, Secretary Leonor Briones admitted that the inadequate number of teachers remains a problem.

“Definitely size matters. The size of Finland, the size of Singapore, the size of the Philippines. 27 million learners, 900 thousand teachers,” Briones claimed.

The DepEd chief added that the department also considers early pregnancy as another serious problem.

“Ang instruction kasi ng President is: starting age 9, umpisahan na ang pagturo ng reproductive health [The president’s instruction was: starting age 9, we should start teaching reproductive health]. We’re taking it seriously and we are working closely with the Department of Health,” Briones said.

The Commission on Population report showed that the rate of teenage pregnancy in the country remains high, with close to 196,000 Filipinos age 15 to 19 getting pregnant every year.  (from the report of Nel Maribojoc) /mbmf

DepEd urged to heighten measures vs consumption of ASF-tainted products in schools

Robie de Guzman   •   November 8, 2019

 Filipino children are seen in front of a school in Manila, Philippines, 08 October 2019 (issued 11 October 2019). EPA-EFE/FRANCIS R. MALASIG

MANILA, Philippines – A senator has urged the Department of Education (DepEd) to heighten precautionary measures to prevent students from consuming pork products tainted with African Swine Fever (ASF) in schools.

In a statement, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said DepEd should exercise vigilance following reports that processed pork meats from China tested positive for ASF, as well as some skinless longganisa and hotdog products from local manufacturer, Mekeni.

“Sa mga feeding program na isinasagawa ng DepEd, halimbawa, dapat siguruhin ng ating mga guro na gumagamit sila ng mga malinis at mapagkakatiwalaang mga produktong ipakakain sa mga bata,” he said in a statement.

While ASF does not pose a threat to human health, the senator said schools should raise awareness and exhaust all sanitary measures to protect students from ASF-contaminated products.

Gatchalian also cited an advisory from the Department of Health which identified uncooked and undercooked contaminated pork as a source of ASF’s spread in swine herds.

Health authorities said the swine disease is introduced into a herd when contaminated raw pork is ingested by a pig. The virus spreads when contaminated pigs get into direct contact with other pigs.

Food waste, feed, and garbage can also cause ASF when ingested by pigs.

“Etong mga hakbang na maaari nating gawin, nagsisimula ito sa responsableng pamimili at lubos na pagluluto ng karne sa mga paaralan. Ito ay upang maiwasan natin ang pagkakasakit ng mga mag-aaral pati na rin ang pagkalat pa ng ASF,” he said.

The Department of Agriculture earlier said that the illegal importation of pork products from China was responsible for the spread of the ASF virus in the country.

Gatchalian also urged DepEd to involve parents in efforts to raise awareness on sanitary practices and preventive measures.

“While schools play an important role to protect our students’ health, it is important that we also extend our efforts at the household level. Kahit gawin ng mga paaralan ang lahat ng pwedeng gawin kung hindi naman nababantayan sa mga bahay nila, malalagay pa rin sa panganib ang ating mga estudyante,” he said.

Lacson calls on colleagues to bare amendments in 2020 budget bill

Robie de Guzman   •   November 5, 2019

Senator Panfilo Lacson

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Panfilo Lacson on Tuesday challenged his fellow lawmakers to bare the amendments they made to the proposed 2020 national budget following his allegations that billions-worth of “pork” funds were “parked” in the budget bill.

Lacson said such a show of transparency would dispel suspicions that the amendments are stained with “pork barrel” funds.

“We should make everything public. That includes all amendments we submit, whether institutional or individual,” Lacson said in an interview on DZBB radio.

“Most if not all lawmakers have their own websites. Why not post their amendments there, for the public to scrutinize?” he added.

Lacson lamented that in previous years, some lawmakers submit their amendments to their respective finance or appropriations chairpersons without having them go through floor deliberations.

“Instead of having their amendments undergo scrutiny in-floor deliberations, some lawmakers propose their amendments verbally, or even scribble them on napkins,” he said.

The lawmaker said that during Congress’ deliberation on the 2019 budget, he used his website to post his proposed institutional changes.

Institutional amendments pertain to programs and projects that have undergone planning and vetting, and are based on requests from concerned implementing agencies.

Lacson said such institutional amendments are proposed by lawmakers who find merit in them after vetting with relevant agencies.

Individual amendments, meanwhile, pertain to projects based mainly on lawmakers’ intervention and are considered legislators’ pet projects.

“In most cases, these do not involve consultations with the implementing agencies concerned, nor are they part of the Local Development Plans of the Local Government Units,” Lacson said.

He added that such programs can be considered pork barrel, based on the 2013 ruling of the Supreme Court that deems as unconstitutional projects that are “whimsical and arbitrary.”

The 2013 Supreme Court ruling declaring pork barrel as unconstitutional covers “all informal practices of similar import and effect, which the Court similarly deems to be acts of grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction.”

In pushing for transparency in the national budget, Lacson said people have the right to know where their taxes are going, especially amid the country’s growing debt that now stands at more than P7.9 trillion.

“The national budget involves the people’s money. It should benefit the people and not a few senators or congressmen or even government officials who implement projects. And the budget is funded by our taxes, as well as borrowings if our tax collections fall short,” he said.

READ: Sen. Lacson urged to identify questionable P20-B in proposed 2020 national budget

Deped welcomes House’s plan to review K-12 program

Aileen Cerrudo   •   October 22, 2019

The Department of Education (Deped) welcomes the plan of the House of Representatives to review the K to 12 basic education program.

In a statement, Deped said the department is willing to coordinate with the members of Congress to plan a more effective implementation of the said program.

“DepEd hopes the outcome of the review will spur renewed commitment and initiatives among lawmakers, advocates, and other stakeholders in aid of realizing the K to 12 program’s overall goal – hone holistically developed Filipino learners with 21st century skills,” Deped said in a statement.

On Sunday (October 20), House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said that the Lower House is in consensus that the K to 12 Program has to be reviewed.

“We in the House are of the consensus that K-12 is not living up to its promise, which is, after you finish senior high school, you don’t have to go to college. You gain skills to be employed,” he said.

Cayetano said there are still issues needed to be addressed including the lack of equipment of several schools to fully implement the said program.

The education department said they will work closely with Congress to address the issues of the K to 12 Program.

“A dedicated review session will provide an appropriate venue to comprehensively discuss concerns about the program and plot out corresponding solutions,” their statement reads.—AAC

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