Make ‘bayanihan’ work to revolutionize PH education for our youth

“The Bayanihan Spirit is called upon now more than ever to make education effective for our young children.”

Senator Pia S. Cayetano delivered this message to the country’s educators on Monday (June 1), as she called for a whole-of-society approach to address challenges to the basic education sector during COVID-19 and beyond.

Speaking before DepEd’s virtual kickoff program of the 2020 Brigada Eskwela and Oplan Balik Eskwela, Cayetano reiterated the importance of blended learning to ensure that no child will get left behind in receiving quality education during the ‘new normal.’

“The urgent task at hand [is] the delivery of the education materials. So we are now rushing to set into place other modes of delivery because the usual physical classroom setting will not be happening anytime soon,” the senator noted.

“However, I’d like to include in the discussion that beyond the delivery of education is [the need to] reach every single child with the help of tools available to us, so we can optimize learning for each child,” she added.

Cayetano said this requires more than just shifting to a different teaching platform – from physical classes to online classes – but a comprehensive ‘blended’ approach, which will employ the participation of parents, teachers, and communities in delivering education to children.

The Chair of the Senate Committee on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Innovation, and Futures Thinking, Cayetano said educators can turn current challenges into opportunities to jumpstart education for the future.

“I support the initiatives and at the same time challenge DepEd to make the most of these challenging times and really revolutionize education for our young people today,” she said.

Senator Pia Cayetano: “Beyond the delivery of education is [the need to] reach every single child with the help of tools available to us, so we can optimize learning for each child.”

DepEd Secretary Leonor “Liling” Briones, for her part, echoed the senator’s beliefs, stressing that the agency shares Cayetano’s goal of approaching the sector’s needs using a futures thinking mindset.

Education Secretary Leonor Briones said the Department of Education shares Sen. Pia Cayetano’s goal of approaching the sector’s needs using a futures thinking mindset.

Meanwhile, Education Undersecretary Nepomuceno Malaluan also expressed his support for Cayetano’s message. He said there is now a much-needed opportunity to “really transform the [country’s] education system.”

“Hindi po tatalikuran ng ating pamahalaan at ng Kagawaran ng Edukasyon ang tungkulin na magbigay ng kalidad na edukasyon para sa lahat. Hindi lamang emergency response ito, kundi tulad ng sabi ni Senator Pia, kailangan nakatungtong din ito sa mas pangmatagalang vision at innovation for the future of the education system,” Usec. Malaluan stressed.

He said the agency is set to implement blended and distance learning systems in line with the agency’s goal of delivering quality education to children that is geared for the future.

DepEd Undersecretary Nepo Malaluan: “Tulad ng sabi ni Senator Pia, kailangan nakatungtong din [ang mga pagbabago sa edukasyon] sa mas pangmatagalang vision at innovation for the future of the education system.”

DepEd is preparing to deliver different learning modalities to children during the crisis, which include printed modules, online learning resources, and television and radio instructions.

Cayetano added: “I am so happy that [DepEd under] Secretary Briones and I see eye-to-eye on these ideas. But we need to be able to translate this into actual action on the ground with our teachers [and society helping as a whole].”

“I trust that in the weeks and months to come, [we can cascade] all this information and bring our educators up to speed so the knowledge that [our children] will receive outside of the classroom is maximized,” added Cayetano, the principal author of three laws on flexible learning, including the Open High School System Act (RA 10665), Open Distance Learning Act (RA 10650), and Ladderized Education Act (RA 10647). #

Message to the Oplan Balik Eskwela virtual kickoff program

I’d like to send my warm greetings to Secretary Briones and to my colleague, of course, Senator Win Gatchalian, to my former colleagues in the House of Representatives and to all the whole DepEd family and stakeholders who are listening and watching us today.

Magandang umaga po sa inyong lahat.

I want to keep this very brief, but I’d also like to instill in the minds of every educator out there, and that includes also myself as a parent, that truly, the Bayanihan Spirit is called upon now more than ever to make our education effective for our young children.

I know that the urgent task at hand appears to be the delivery of the education materials. So we are now rushing to determine and to set into place other modes of delivery because the usual physical presence of the teachers and the students in the classroom setting will not be happening anytime soon.

However, I’d like to include in the discussion – and I know, of course, the Secretary and the Usecs. are on this – that beyond the simple delivery of education is our perennial problem on reaching every single child. Because we live in a time where we have all the data analytics, we have all the information that we need, the data. Learning analytics is available to us. We can measure, we can collect, we can analyze the data about every learner in order to optimize the learning for each child. And yet, our country, like many other countries, not just us, [is] still teaching in the mode of a hundred years ago, where there is a blackboard, there is a teacher, and there are students.

And we need to get past that. I want to be able to use this crisis that we are in to jump-start the education of the future. I am so happy that Secretary Briones and I see eye to eye on this, the Usecs. that attend our hearings are on board. But we need to be able to translate this into actual action on the ground with our teachers. We need them to understand. Because even I continue to see that image of a blackboard, a teacher, and students. There’s going to be quarterly exams, and there’s final exams.

But we have all the data that tells us that the learning curve shows that some are advanced and fast learners, and some are slow learners. And we need to get away from that, the model that we have because it perpetuates the stigma against slower learners, when they may not even be slow learners at all, they just may have other intelligence, multi-intelligence that are not seen on the spectrum immediately.

And that is why I have been a proponent for blended learning and I also want to be sure that in our haste to set into place this new modalities of delivery, we do not simply deliver education in a different format, meaning from blackboard it became a computer. Because that is not blended learning. We really need to make use of every instrument that we have, including the parents… every tool that we have, the parents, the society, retired teachers, all the tools available to us to reach children. And especially those children who live in urban centers. The information and knowledge that they receive outside of the classroom is so abundant that we also need to help them filter this and maximize those learnings outside of the classroom to make it relevant to them in the classroom.

I read a study that said the Math curriculum of the United States is “turn of the century,” 1900’s. US na nga ‘yun, ‘no? I don’t think we can say that mas advanced tayo sa US. So I also have concerns of that nature. And I trust that in the years to come, or actually, in the weeks and months to come… Because when I… we have hearings, I know and recognize that the DepEd officials know this. It’s really a matter of cascading all this information and bringing our teachers up to speed.

So I believe that is the bigger challenge. Not simply the fact that our students will not be able to go to the classroom, but the reality that we need to be able to reach every single child and to be able to deliver education to them at each level that each child needs to hear, needs to understand.

So on that note, I do believe that the best time for the Bayanihan spirit to come alive is now. A lot of people know the reality that great things happen in the time of crisis, great ideas come about in the time of crisis. And so I challenge and I support all the initiatives of DepEd to make the most of these challenging times and really revolutionize education for our young people today.

Thank you very much and God bless you all! #

Sen. Pia Cayetano said educators can turn current challenges into opportunities to jumpstart education for the future.

Pia to DBM: don’t slash SUCs’ budget for infra dev’t

Senator Pia S. Cayetano is imploring the budget department to ensure adequate funding for the infrastructure projects of state universities and colleges (SUCs) amid the urgency to realign government funds for the country’s COVID-19 response.
The senator made the pronouncement on Tuesday (May 19) during the Senate Committee of the Whole inquiry into the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Just to put on record my concern for our budget of higher education. They are very underfunded to begin with, and we’re very slow to provide infrastructure funding for our SUCs,” Cayetano told Secretary Wendel Avisado of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).
“If we look at the record, we give them funds not on a continuing basis, but based on a request that they make, which takes many years to be granted. And then we do not give the succeeding funds because we say that the project is already fulfilled. But we know that they get one project at a time, if at all,” she lamented.
The senator further stressed the need to prioritize education, saying that promoting innovations in higher education is essential in adapting to the ‘new normal.’ She added that supporting education is also aligned with the President’s directive to restart and accelerate the Build, Build, Build infrastructure program to reboot the country’s economy.
“It is really a deep appeal that I have for the administration to consider this because it is a win-win [solution]. We know [that the administration is bent on accelerating] Build, Build, Build. So why don’t we also keep building on infrastructure needed for higher education? We hope that we can really make it happen,” she said.
In response, Sec. Avisado assured Cayetano that the budget department will give prime importance to education in terms of budgeting.
The senator filed last year Senate Bill No. 64 or the Build, Build, Build Program for Education bill (Public Higher Education Institutions Act), which maps out a five-year priority infrastructure plan for the improvement of facilities in tertiary education.
She also filed SBN 62 or the ‘Educational Roadmap Act,’ which seeks to institutionalize an education roadmap that incorporates the needed skills and competencies that industries constantly look for in new graduates.
The senator said by ensuring proper funding for the infrastructure needs of SUCs, the government will not lose track of delivering quality education under Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 despite the pandemic.
“Saan po ba manggagaling ang innovation natin kung hindi sa mga kabataan? Futures Thinking, which is a different way of thinking, is really a skill and an academic pursuit [that requires that our students have access to quality education.] So it is really something that I feel strongly about,” stressed Cayetano, chairperson of the Senate Committee on SDGs, Innovation, and Futures Thinking.
The senator is promoting Futures Literacy among the youth to help the country prepare for future pandemics and other emergencies.
Last May 2, Cayetano hosted a virtual consultation with more than 80 SUC presidents from the Philippine Association of State Universities and Colleges (PASUC) to listen to their concerns and recommendations in pushing for alternative learning systems for tertiary students during the ‘new normal.’ #
Senator Pia S. Cayetano hosts a virtual consultation with SUC presidents from the Philippine Association of State Universities and Colleges (PASUC) to listen to their concerns and recommendations in pushing for alternative learning systems for tertiary students during the ‘new normal.’ (May 2, 2020)
Postscript:
In a letter dated May 20, the  Philippine Association of State Universities and Colleges (PASUC) thanked Senator Cayetano for her “efforts in tackling our pressing concerns regarding the continuance of the P17.3 billion Programmed Appropriations for Capital Outlays (COs) under FY 2020 GAA relative to DBM NBC No. 580.” 
“Your manifestations and inquiry during the Senate Hearing yesterday were truly reflective of your relentless support towards adequate funding of higher education for its transformation and resiliency during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. The way you emphasized the role of SUCs in the attainment of ‘innovations and futures thinking’ was remarkable. It heightens the need for greater funding support for higher education,” read the letter signed by PASUC President Dr. Tirso A. Ronquillo.
“It is with optimism that, through your representation, our request to Secretary Avisado will be favorably considered.”
Letter of the Philippine Association of State Universities and Colleges (PASUC) thanking Senator Pia S. Cayetano for raising the issue of the infrastructure budget of SUCs at the Senate Committee of the Whole hearing on May 19.

Don’t forget PE classes under ‘new normal’ curriculum

Senator Pia S. Cayetano is pushing for the inclusion of Physical Education (PE) among the classes to be offered under the Department of Education’s (DepEd) proposed blended learning modalities for the ‘new normal.’

“Physical well being is something we cannot simply set aside, especially in this time of COVID-19. We need to keep promoting physical education and regular exercise among our children,” Cayetano said.

The senator made the statement on Thursday (May 14) at the virtual hearing of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts, and Culture on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the country’s education system.

During the hearing, Cayetano urged DepEd officials to come up with innovative ways to ensure that PE subjects will continue to be taught to students and tailored for different grade levels.

The senator pointed out that various media platforms, including television and the internet, can be used as tools for this purpose, being key components of blended learning. She added that students need not leave their homes to be encouraged to exercise.

She suggested educational programs that promote regular exercise among children, as this could lead to many health benefits and potentially prevent respiratory illnesses.

“Physical education does not have to take up too much space. Government channels can easily air these kinds of shows for students. There are many things that can be done. What matters is we do not disregard PE, and the need to teach our children the importance of taking care of their health while at home,” she added.

DepEd, for its part, informed the Senate panel that it is in the process of coordinating with private sector partners in preparing downloadable videos that teach kids how to learn certain sports and other physical skills.

Meanwhile, Cayetano also pressed DepEd to fast-track its plan to seek assistance from the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) in using government-run television and radio stations as platforms for delivering lessons during the pandemic.

Tapping state-run channels, including PTV 4, to air educational shows for children was among the recommendations that the senator forwarded to the executive department following the President’s weekly reports to Congress.

Cayetano said that she has repeatedly cited in the Senate’s weekly comments the need to use government TV stations to air educational shows. “The concerned agencies should be coordinating with each other about that by now… Can we get a follow up on that?” she asked DepEd, adding that the agency should take charge of deciding which types of programs PCOO would air in their channels.

“We need to secure the best content for our students. There are many materials out there. But just like textbooks, these need to be filtered. In fact, my suggestions were very detailed to the effect that you have time slots for different age groups: from preschool- to college-level programs,” she noted.

DepEd then assured the panel that it is now finalizing specific strategies to make this proposal possible, including converting educational materials into scripts for TV- and radio-based instructions.

Finally, Cayetano reiterated the need to adopt a Futures Thinking approach in addressing the challenges in basic education, following the disruption caused by COVID-19.

“We have to look into [all possible] futures. This really requires long-term planning, and it never happens at the level that we are discussing it if we are always in the now. That is precisely why I funded the Futures Thinking division in DepEd so that we can plan in this way,” said Cayetano, who chairs the Senate Committee on Sustainable Development Goals, Innovation, and Futures Thinking.

“This is not just for June. This is not for the opening of classes, this is for the long-term quality of our children’s education,” she added. #

Cayetano urged DepEd officials to come up with innovative ways to ensure that PE subjects will continue to be taught to students and tailored for different grade levels.

 

Innovations needed to educate students in the new normal

“We must take advantage of this crisis and come up with innovative ways to educate our kids during this time of COVID-19.”

Thus said Senator Pia S. Cayetano as she pushed for the establishment of more “blended learning models” to educate Filipino children during the ‘new normal’, amid the disruption of schools due to the pandemic.

The Chair of the Senate Committee on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Innovation, and Futures Thinking, Cayetano welcomed the plan of the Department of Education (DepEd) to use different learning modalities – including in-classroom study and individual study or online classroom work – for the basic education sector.

“Clearly, the  internet will play a vital role in this proposal, as online teaching is a key component of effective blended learning. So the improvement of internet access in schools and the provision of necessary equipment for teachers to conduct online classes is imperative,” she said.

But the senator also noted that the reality is not all Filipino households have access to the internet. Thus, the need to come up with other alternative modes of learning that can be accessible to more students.

“We tend to reject new ideas during ‘normal times.’ But a crisis is a perfect time to explore other options,” she stressed.

“Why don’t we explore and tap government channels – like PTV 4, IBC 13, and RPN 9 in various provinces – to air more educational shows? There is so much content out there that can be used to educate millions of Filipino children all over the country,” she suggested, adding that the channels can allot regular block time for subjects like history, science, geography, music, art, and more, in between broadcasting relevant news programs and official press conferences of the government.

“I would even recommend that English programs should not be dubbed and kept as is, to give our young learners the opportunity to hone their English communication skills while learning at home,” Cayetano further pointed out.

Meanwhile, in the recommendations she sent Malacañang pursuant to the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, Cayetano noted: “DepEd should provide an update on their preparation in the integration of blended learning in the curriculum, as it is not as simple as using the internet. It includes time in school, provided it is safe to return to school, and social distancing measures are put into place – such as having a smaller number of students attend a few days a week on a rotational basis for interaction with their teachers.”

The senator further suggests that around 20-30 percent of students per class may be allowed to go to school in areas where it is safe for children to go out. She added that the smaller classroom size will promote better interaction and make learning easier for the children.

Cayetano said DepEd can seek assistance from the University of the Philippines (UP) in further exploring online education as part of  its proposed blended learning systems. UP is mandated to share its knowledge and assist national agencies and educational institutions in developing distance education programs – including online learning management systems – under the Open Distance Learning Act (RA 10650), which the senator sponsored as former chair of the Senate Committee on Education.

“We need a Futures Thinking mindset to educate our children during the ‘new normal.’ Access to quality education is a vital tool in nation-building, and we must use this crisis as an opportunity to innovate and reinvent our education,” Cayetano said, stressing that inclusive and equitable quality education for all is one of the 17 SDGs that the Philippines seeks to achieve by 2030. #

Senator Pia Cayetano and DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones
File photo: Senator Pia S. Cayetano, vice chair of the Senate Committee on Finance, leads a hearing on the basic education budget with Department of Education Secretary Leonor Briones (back to camera) on the foreground.

Pia vows to increase funding for ‘Last Mile’ Schools

Senator Pia S. Cayetano has vowed to increase from P1.5 billion to P15 billion the funding allocation for the Department of Education’s (DepEd) Last Mile Schools (LMS) Program in next year’s proposed P4.1-trillion national government budget. 

Cayetano, the Senate Finance Committee vice chair, said the tenfold increase will benefit 830 Last Mile Schools located in far-flung and hinterland communities across the country.

“I have personally visited some of these schools whenever I would hike or bike to upland communities, particularly in the Cordillera Administrative Region,” she shared. 

A mountain biker and hiking enthusiast, Cayetano regularly visits upland schools in the north to bring learning materials and conduct fitness and football clinics for students. 

She said that LMS usually have multi-grade level classrooms due to the limited number of classrooms accommodating the communities’ entire student population from different grade levels. 

“Multi-grade level classrooms are actually an acceptable education model. My children grew up in this kind of setting. What is important is that the teachers are well-trained to handle multi-grade level classrooms and that the class sizes remain small,” Cayetano explained.

She said the core of DepEd’s LMS Program is ensuring that the schools’ classrooms are made of sturdy material and equipped with the proper learning facilities, including computers that have access to programs complementing the classroom teaching, and electricity. 

The DepEd had originally asked for a P21.52 billion budget for its LMS program for next year, but only P1.5 billion was approved by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), based on the 2020 National Expenditure Program. 

A memorandum issued by the Office of the Deputy Executive Secretary for Finance and Administration last August, however, directed the DBM to include and prioritize the “Last Mile Schools Fund” as a new line item under DepEd’s budget in the 2020 NEP.

“We should not forget about the Filipino families in far-flung areas who also want the best future for their children,” she stressed. “This is one of my ways to ensure that in our shared goal of fostering growth through education, no Filipino child will get left behind.”

“I also hope more senators would be willing to go the extra mile to help our last mile schools, and by actively supporting tax reforms, whose proceeds will help fund social services and our Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” added Cayetano, who also chairs the Senate Committees on Ways and Means and on SDGs, Innovation, and Futures Thinking. 

As of September 1, there are about 9,225 schools identified as LMS, with CAR (1,223), Western Visayas (824) and Eastern Visayas (1,076) having the most number – excluding the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

According to DepEd, most LMS are more than an hour away from the town center, in places with problems in peace and order, and which private contractors, suppliers and service providers find difficult to access. 

LMS have multi-grade level classes, with less than five teachers, and a student population of less than 100, more than 75% of which are usually indigenous people. They have very limited facilities, which had never been repaired in the last four years. #


Senator Pia S. Cayetano visits students at Lamut Elementary School in La Trinidad, Benguet during her annual trek to far-flung communities in the province. (2014)


Senator Pia S. Cayetano is joined by the UP Women’s Football Team (UPWFT) during her annual trek to far-flung communities in Benguet. In 2018, the senator and the student-athletes handed out books, toys, and other learning materials to students studying at the Lusod Community School in Itogon, Benguet.

Raising teachers’ pay to help affirm dignity of teaching

Senator Pia S. Cayetano today said raising the compensation of teachers is the best affirmation of government’s high regard for the country’s educators and their contributions to nation-building. 

The senator issued the statement in time for National Teachers’ Day, which is being observed on October 5 (Saturday).

A staunch education advocate, Cayetano authored Senate Bill No. 70, or the ‘Additional Support and Compensation for Educators in Basic Education Act.’

The measure proposes a salary increase of P10,000 per month for public school teachers, locally-funded teachers, and non-teaching personnel of the Department of Education (DepEd).

The salary hike shall be granted over three years in three tranches, starting with a P4,000 monthly pay hike on the first year, an additional P3,000 per month on the second year, and a final increment of P3,000 per month on the third year.

The bill is currently being deliberated with similar measures by a technical working group under the Senate Committee on Civil Service, Government Reorganization and Professional Regulation.

“Raising the compensation of teachers affirms the dignity of the teaching profession. This will not only improve their lives, but also inspire them to further improve,” she explained.

 

“We have so many hardworking teachers who deserve more support. Also, we can still do better to make the teaching profession more attractive to the best and brightest,” she stressed.

 

“I want to be able to leave that kind of legacy to our children – that they can go to any school in the Philippines, and get the best education possible because they will be mentored by intelligent and dedicated teachers,” she added.

 

Cayetano pointed out that empowering teachers to successfully fulfill their role in society is part of the country’s commitments to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

 

Goal 4 of the SDGs particularly states that by 2030, the supply of qualified teachers in the country should have substantially increased.

   

Apart from the salary adjustment, Cayetano’s bill seeks to grant public school teachers the following benefits: Medical allowance, a yearly bonus based on the Magna Carta for Public School Teachers (RA 4670), and additional compensation from local school board funds.

The former chair of the Senate Committee on Education, Arts, and Culture, Cayetano has championed the passage of landmark laws that enhanced public education in the country, including the National Teacher’s Day Act (RA 10743), Unified Student Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education or UniFAST Act (RA 10687), Open High School System Act (RA 10665), Open Distance Learning Act (RA 10650), Iskolar ng Bayan Act (RA 10648), and Ladderized Education Act (RA 10647).#

Senator Pia Cayetano: “We have so many hardworking teachers who deserve more support.”

Pia: Finance panel approves 2020 budget for CHED, SUCs

The Senate Finance Committee has approved on Thursday (Sept. 19) the proposed 2020 budget of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and 110 State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) in the country, following a subcommittee hearing led by Vice Chair Senator Pia S. Cayetano. 

With the approval, CHED’s P40.78-billion proposed allocation for next year will be submitted for plenary deliberations, along with the P49.46-billion proposed budget for the 110 SUCs. 

The committee, on the other hand, deferred the approval of the proposed P15.40-billion proposed funding for the University of the Philippines (UP), pending the institution’s submission of required documents to the committee for review.


Cayetano, the panel’s vice chair, has expressed commitment to review the major cuts in the higher education sector’s proposed funding, with the goal of finding a way to bridge the gap, which CHED officials pegged at P11 billion. 


“The biggest concern of CHED and SUCs is that they have at least P11 billion [budget cut] that is meant to finance [various education programs]. Ito ang hahanapan natin ng pondo,” the senator said in an ambush interview after the hearing.

“These are [for] students who have previously been awarded scholarships, and then may incoming graduates din na mag-aavail [ng scholarships], so may shortage tayo diyan,” she further explained. 
Cayetano said she is already looking into possible sources for the additional funding, among which are unobligated funds from the agencies’ 2019 budget.

“Ang ine-expect kong makuha doon sa mga hindi nagamit, mga unobligated [funds] nila is around P8 billion,” she said, clarifying that the amount is still subject to verification. 

“We consider our human resources as the most important resource that we have. So their education is very important. I already have the source for funding. We just have to rationalize and prioritize projects,” she added. 

The senator further pointed out that the country can still do better in terms of financing the education sector. She cited that the government is spending only 3.9 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) on education, lower than the six-percent recommendation of the United Nations.    

“Our Constitution requires that we prioritize education. Nasusunod naman natin na the biggest agency that receives funding is education. [But] if you compare our spending with other countries, medyo talo tayo. Mas mataas ang spending sa atin ng Laos at Vietnam,” Cayetano noted.

Furthermore, she clarified the status of UP’s budget, which the committee has deferred. 
“On UP, humingi kasi ako ng development sa status ng projects, because a big portion of the higher education budget goes to UP. And I have been a big supporter [of UP’s budget] for many years,” the senator asserted.

“I just want them to properly explain to me what these programs are, the projects, the timelines, the status, so that tuloy-tuloy naman tayong makatulong sa UP at responsible naman tayo sa paglagay ng pondo,” she added. 

During the hearing, Cayetano also vowed to provide additional government support in accelerating infrastructure development for SUCs. She filed Senate Bill No. 64 or the “Build, Build, Build” for Higher Education bill, which lays down a five-year capital outlay plan for state-run higher education institutions.#

Light moment at the finance committee hearing as senators applaud a manifestation of Senator Ronald ‘Bato’ Dela Rosa.
Senate finance committee vice chair Pia Cayetano has vowed to review major cuts in the higher education sector’s proposed funding, which CHED officials pegged at P11 billion.

Pia: We need to put in more funding for higher education

Transcript of interview with Senator Pia S. Cayetano, Senate Finance Committee Vice Chairperson. Topic: Budget hearing for the Commission on Higher Education and (CHED) and State Universities and Colleges (SUCs)  

Q: Ma’am, please give us an overview of the hearing and your thoughts tungkol sa budget ng SUCs, ano ang next step ng committee?

Senator Pia S. Cayetano (SPSC): Of course, budget, finances ang pinag-uusapan. And the biggest concern of CHED and the SUCs is that they have at least P11 billion that is meant to finance yung education – kumbaga, sa madaling salita, parang scholarships ng mga bata – na na-cut, na nabawasan. 

So, P11 billion yung hahanapan natin ng pondo. These are students who have previously been awarded scholarships and then may incoming din na mga graduates na mag-aavail, and may shortage tayo diyan. 

We need to address this because we consider our human resource the most important resource that we have. So their education is very important. 

And let me put on record that if you compare our spending with other countries, medyo talo tayo. Our Constitution requires that we prioritize education. Totoo naman, nasusunod naman natin na biggest agency that receives funding is education. However, the recommendation of the UN is 6 percent. And we are only spending 3.9, almost 4 percent. Mas mataas ang spending sa atin ng Laos at ng Vietnam. At alam mo talagang itong mga bansang ‘to, naghahabol, diba?

So dapat tayo, huwag lang din tayong kampante. Kailangan mag-invest pa rin tayo sa education sector. 

I also took note and pointed out that the SUC presidents and CHED also have a role to play. They have to be able to submit all the requirements to prove the funding is properly used. 

But on that note, I am happy that I had 5 or 6 other colleagues who all support education. So I am hoping that they will support my initiative to put in more funding for education in general, capital outlays of the SUCs, and the funding of the education itself through scholarships and grants.

Q: Ma’am, yung P11 billion, may idea tayo kung saan pwedeng i-source out?

SPSC: Pwede naman nating… ang proposal ko nga is tingnan yung doon sa mga hindi pa nagamit nila na budget, yung unused portion nila, and they will give me the final amount. Kasi, meron nung 2018 na nalipat nila sa 2019. Pero ‘pag may natira pa doon, dahil may 2019 budget din, baka pwede tayong kumuha doon. 

Q: Hopefully, sapat na po ‘yun…

SPSC: Well, I don’t know kasi P11 billion yung total, and ang ine-expect kong makuha doon sa mga hindi nagamit, mga unobligated nila is parang P8 billion lang. 

Mga P8 billion is what I hope to get, but that’s subject to verification nila na hindi nagamit yung P8 billion na yun.

Q: Ang hindi na-submit ng UP, ano po ang mga kulang pa nila?

SPSC: Marami, humingi kasi ako ng development sa status ng mga projects, kasi syempre malaking part ng budget [ng SUCs] ang UP, malaki talagang portion of the higher education budget goes to UP. And I have been a big supporter for many years.

I just want them to properly explain to me what these programs are, the projects, the timelines, the status, so that tuloy-tuloy naman tayong makatulong sa UP. Yun lang naman ang sa akin, so that responsible naman tayo sa paglalagay ng pondo.#

Senate Finance Committee Vice Chair Pia S. Cayetano leads the subcommittee hearing that discussed the proposed 2020 budget for the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and State Universities and Colleges (SUCs).

Basic education budget hurdles Senate panel

The Senate Finance Committee has approved on Thursday the proposed P551.72-billion budget for the basic education sector for 2020, following the hearing of Subcommittee ‘D’ led by Senator Pia S. Cayetano, the panel’s vice chairperson. 

The budget for the Department of Education (DepEd) and its attached agencies, which increased by 3.79% from 2019’s P531.57-billion budget, will now move to the plenary for deliberations. 

The attached agencies of DepEd include the Philippine High School for the Arts, National Council for Children’s Television, National Book Development Board, National Museum, and Early Childhood Care and Development Council.    

“We are happy to support your budget. I also thank DepEd for acknowledging my observation to create an office on innovation and futures thinking for education,” said Cayetano, who also chairs the newly created Senate Committee on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Innovation, and Futures Thinking. 

During the budget hearing, DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones showed support for the proposal to create a separate committee on innovation and futures thinking in order to confront new trends in the sector.

Cayetano for her part expressed hope that, after receiving the lion’s share of the P4.1-trillion national budget for 2020, the agency would be able to address concerns involving the country’s public education system.

Among which is the need to improve the teacher-to-student ratio in public schools in the country, by hiring more teachers and adopting learning innovations to oversee the development of students. 

“To address the issue of classroom sizes and the lack of learning resources, I want to start the discussion on blended learning,” the senator said, referring to the education style where students are taught through traditional face-to-face teaching, as well as via electronic and online media.

“I am a proponent of multilevel classrooms. I am also a proponent of personalized education… I have yet to go to a public school where the materials available are overflowing,” she added.

The senator then encouraged DepEd to ensure the full delivery of services under its DepEd Computerization Program (DCP), which gives both public school teachers and students access to multimedia tools and technologies to promote digital literacy.

“There are many ways to teach a child. We can make it more exciting,” Cayetano said, adding that technology-based blended learning could enable teachers to attend to the needs of each child in their class. 

Meanwhile, the senator also urged the agency to step up in improving the quality of the country’s public educators.   

She cited Finland as a model for education reforms, noting that all Finnish teachers have master’s degrees. 

“We should be looking at similar targets. We could [allot] a fund and divide it geographically to provide Filipino teachers with scholarships,” Cayetano suggested.

“What I recommend is to have in-house training, as well as scholarships for international training. So that in the coming years, we will have more quality teachers,” she added. 

Finally, the senator pushed anew for the improvement of Filipino youths’ English proficiency to make them more job-ready and globally competitive. 

“I want to make sure we have a strategic program on [English proficiency] because [this is] our edge among other countries. English competence should not be set aside just because we are teaching [children]  in the mother tongue,”  Cayetano stressed. #

Senator Cayetano expressed hope that, after receiving the lion’s share of the P4.1-trillion national budget for 2020, the agency would be able to address urgent concerns involving the country’s public education system.