DepEd receives P543.2B in 2017 national budget

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Education (DepEd) received the lion's share of the 2017 national budget at P543.2 billion ($10.97 billion). This is seen to benefit over 21.2 million learners all over the country.

The DepEd's budget will be used primarily to fund teachers' salaries, improve basic educational facilities, purchase instructional materials, and give financial assistance to students.

The figure represents an increase of 25% from last year's funding of P433.38 billion ($8.75 billion). It is the biggest allocation among all executive departments in the 2017 General Appropriations Act (GAA). (READ: Briones eyes review of DepEd spending)

Some P19.4 billion ($391.8 million) will go to salaries. According to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), this will allow the DepEd to open 53,831 teaching positions and 13,280 non-teaching posts.

To address the backlog in facilities, P118.8 billion ($2.4 billion) will be used for construction, repair, and acquiring basic educational needs. It includes 47,492 classrooms and 66,492 sets of school seats for the K-12 program.

The DepEd's budget will also make additional learning resources available. The department will purchase 55 million textbooks and instructional materials, as well as equipment for science and mathematics for 5,449 schools.

Partnerships with private institutions to deliver basic education received considerable funding in this year's budget. The Government Assistance to Students and Teachers in Private Education (GASTPE) program will receive P35.8 billion ($722.95 million), granting financial assistance to over 2.6 million beneficiaries.

'Budget for real change'

The bulk of GASTPE's funds will go to the Voucher Program for private senior high schools while the rest will support the Education Service Contracting of the department for those in junior high school and technical-vocational and livelihood specializations.

According to statistics, kindergarten net enrollment rates are expected to jump from 53% to 72%; for elementary, this will rise from 90% to 94%. Enrollment rates in junior high school see an increase from 68% to 73%, with better implementation of the K to 12 program.

Dubbed "Budget for Real Change," the Duterte administration's first national budget amounts to P3.35 trillion ($67.61 billion). It is 11.6% higher than the 2016 budget and represents 21% of the projected gross domestic product (GDP) for 2017. (READ: 2017 budget priorities: Infrastructure, agriculture, peace and order)

The 2017 budget also increased allocation for infrastructure, free education for SUCs, universal healthcare, and free irrigation for farmers, among others.– Rappler.com

$1 = P49.52