MANILA – Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go on Wednesday urged local government units (LGUs) to “carefully and wisely” utilize their respective Special Education Fund (SEF) after the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) called on them to assist the Department of Education (DepED) in preparing for the coming school year.
“Ni piso ay hindi dapat masayang. Gamitin po natin nang tama ang pondo ng bayan upang matulungan ang ating mga kababayan, lalo na ngayon na may krisis. (No peso should be wasted. Let us rightfully utilize public funds to help our countrymen, especially in this time of crisis),” Go said.
Go said LGUs must utilize their SEFs properly to support steps in preparation for the opening of classes.
“Sa tulong po ng pondong ito, mapupunan nila ang mga pangangailangan ng kanilang public school system lalo na’t may mga challenges silang hinaharap dala ng pandemyang Covid-19 (With the help of this fund, they can fill the needs of their respective public school system, especially now that they are facing challenges due to the coronavirus disease pandemic),” he added.
Go, chair of the Senate Committee on Health, said that in using the SEF, LGUs must also ensure that students are able to continue their education without putting them at harm because of the risks caused by coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).
Just recently, the DILG asked LGUs to “assist the DepED in the adjustment of public schools to the new normal” as well as to utilize the SEF to enable them to support their local education needs in the face of Covid-19.
The DILG also encouraged the local governments to convene their Local School Boards to discuss the use of SEF and to support the localization of the Basic Education Learning Continuity Plan crafted by DepEd.
Go said he fully supports DILG’s call, and urged anew for the immediate passage of Senate Bill No. 396 which will allow for the expanded application of the SEF.
“The expanded use of SEF will give LGUs the flexibility to boost their support to local public schools and facilitate the transition to ‘blended learning’ amid the pandemic,” he said.
Under Section 272 of the Local Government Code (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.”
Once enacted into law, SB 396 will expand the application of the SEF 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 facilitators; and the purchase of teaching aids and other instructional materials within the scope of SEF allocation.
“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,” 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,” he added. (PNA)