Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima urged the Congress to investigate the deficiencies in the utilization of the billions of pesos funds for the Department of Education’s (DepEd’s) Basic Education-Learning Continuity Program (BE-LCP) during the pandemic.
In filing Proposed Senate Resolution (PSR) No. 887, De Lima cited the 2020 Annual Audit Report of the Commission on Audit (COA) for the DepEd, which revealed that the Department has deficiencies in spending ₱8.136 billion in funds for its BE-LCP, which affects the worsening education crisis in the country.
“Despite the current health crisis in the country, the overall management process, procedures, and transactions should not be delayed, and the program should not be affected by the ‘setback’ to ensure the continuity of students’ learning amidst the threat and uncertainties brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic,” she said.
“This pandemic highlighted the existing and worsening education problems in the country and it is crucial that the State protect its learners by finding solutions for these apparent lapses and gaps and also by ensuring that funds are appropriately utilized for the betterment of the youth,” she added.
Notably, the BE-LCP was crafted by DepEd to address the difficulty of providing quality education to students during the COVID-19 pandemic without sacrificing their health and safety.
However, it was found out that DepEd had lapses in the utilization of around ₱3,220,873,835.58 in COVID-19 funds that were provided under the country’s legislated COVID-19 Economic Rescue Plans, referred to as “Bayanihan 1 and 2”.
De Lima, Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Social Justice, Welfare and Rural Development, noted that the audit highlighted the existence of errors and deficiencies in the self-learning module.
The lady Senator from Bicol pointed out that the audit showed “the lack in planning towards the preparation of self-learning modules and procedural lapses in the checking/review and evaluation processes, thus adversely affecting the quality of the modules and the Department’s objective of ensuring quality basic education.”
A survey conducted last December 2020 by the Movement for Safe, Equitable, Quality and Relevant Education (SEQuRE) showed that 70.9% of the teachers “do not think or are not confident that the competencies set by the DepEd under distance learning are actually being developed.”
Likewise, a survey conducted from June 25 to July 2, 2021 by the same group revealed that 74% of students under blended learning said that they learn less under the alternative modes of instructions as compared with the traditional face-to-face setup.
De Lima filed Senate Bill No. 1872 in October 2020 proposing to exempt educational applications, gadgets, computers and e-books from value-added tax (VAT) for the principal use of teachers and students in online and distant learning.