If the return to face-to-face classes in some areas is implemented nationwide next school year, the government should now go full blast in building schools, hiring teachers and buying books and equipment, senatorial candidate Herbert “Bistek” Bautista said.
The former Quezon City mayor noted that the government has 18 weeks left to ready the 47,612 public schools for the expected August opening of the school year.
“Lumiliit ang window of opportunity,“ the three term-mayor of Quezon City, the country’s largest by land area, said.
“Preparations for our children’s education should be as focused as preparations for the national elections,” he added.
According to Bautista, if COVID-19 cases continue to remain low, the country will see an end to the longest physical closure of schools in recent history.
But the 24 million public school returnees, he added, should not go back to schools “with deficiencies the pandemic has worsened. “
“Kailangan may sapat na bilang ng classrooms at teachers, bagong libro, at mga kumpletong kagamitan,“ Bautista said.
To ensure that these are ready by time schools reopen, Bautista said the Department of Education must spend without delay its “mega allocation” in the 2022 national budget.
“For example, the DepEd has in its disposal P3.18 billion for new classrooms and laboratories this year,“ said Bautista, who is running under the platform of Internet reform, Livelihood for all and Youth development, or ILY.
There is also a P1.03-billon allocation for the repair and renovation of school buildings.
But what should be given the highest priority, Bautista said, is the hiring of new teachers and the promotion of those whose assignment or length of service make them deserving of a salary bump.
“The recruitment should be year-round. DepEd is one job fair that never closes,” he said.
“Let us fill these with competent, qualified and dedicated teachers,“ Bautista said.