Committee on Basic Education

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Earlier, the House Committee on Basic Education and Culture deliberated house measures tackling the INTERNET connectivity of learners and educators and ways on how to soften the blow of the crisis that has enveloped the country for almost 6 months already. The committee was headed by Rep. Roman Romulo.

I. Local School Bills, namely, House Bills Numbered 2314 and 6142, by Rep. Gatchalian”;

Rep. France Castro sponsored House Bills authored by Rep. Gatchalian and motioned that the explanatory note of the bills is made and considered as the sponsorship speech. The motion was approved. The following house bills were named as follows:
House Bill 2314 – AN ACT ESTABLISHING THE SANTOS ENCARNACION ELEMENTARY SCHOOL AS A SEPARATE AND INDEPENDENT ELEMENTARY SCHOOL AND APPROPRIATING FUNDS THEREFOR
House Bill 6142 – AN ACT ESTABLISHING THE MALINTA ELEMENTARY SCHOOL PINALAGAD ANNEX AS A SEPARATE AND INDEPENDENT ELEMENTARY SCHOOL AND APPROPRIATING FUNDS THEREFOR
STATUS: APPROVED

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II. House Bill No. 7222 on School Modernization, Connectivity, and Innovation, by Rep. Tutor;
The said house measure was authored and sponsored by Rep. Tutor herself. The bill, namely, AN ACT PROVIDING FOR A COMPREHENSIVE AND SUSTAINABLE MODERNIZATION, CONNECTIVITY AND INNOVATION PROGRAM FOR PUBLIC ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY SCHOOLS, PROVIDING FUNDS THEREFOR AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES, was approved with very little to no query from the members and resource speakers present in the online committee hearing a while ago.
STATUS: APPROVED

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III. Unnumbered Substitute Bill of House Bills Numbered 311, 514, 1244, 1411, 2671, 3303, 3433, 3505, 4131, 4196, 4527, 4719,4629, 5090, 5226, 5806 and 6964, authored by Reps. Salceda, Roman, Villafuerte, Vargas, Dy (F.M.C), Yap (V.), Santos-Recto, Silverio, Lacson, Olivarez, Nieto, Dimaporo (A.), Dimaporo (M.K.), Maceda, Bordado, Rodriguez, Delos Santos, Ong, Malapitan, Martinez, Valeriano, Gatchalian, and Romulo, titled, “AN ACT ESTABLISHING THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS OF THE FUTURE IN TECHNOLOGY, PROVIDING FUNDS THEREFOR, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES“;

The bills contained under this agenda were all consolidated into one substitute bill by Rep. Khalid Dimaporo. Rep. France Castro aired her concern for the internet connectivity fees and how it is gonna go about for the teachers in the bill. Rep. Khalid Dimaporo replied that provisions are in place in the bill to accommodate those kinds of issues, likewise, the solon from ACT Teachers shared her bill into the committee intending to provide an allowance for the internet fees of the teachers by the government.

What was talked about in the committee about the bill was the piloting program for the said house measure. It aims to provide a 1:1 ratio of learning equipment for both learners and educators without having to release any amounts from their own pockets.
The roadmap for the said measure was raised by Rep. Mark Go of the lone district of Baguio, also chair, or the House Committee on Higher and Technical Education. Rep. Dimaporo said that included in the bill was a provision that Congress will review the current status of the roadmap.

The representative from Sorsogon and also House Deputy Speaker, Evelina Escudero, likewise raise the issue of the lack of connectivity of some of the telecommunications company, not just in her province, but also for the entire country especially in far-flung areas where cell towers were lacking and signal for even the barest signal for data connectivity is non-existent and hardly works. This is despite that the two major players in the country are both listed in the top of the richest Filipinos in the country. Globe Telcom responded that they are closely coordinating with DepEd and that they have a huge budget for this year according to their representative earlier. They boasted an 80 percent coverage in the entire country. Smart communications also said the same thing, they also said that they are open for partnership with the government.

STATUS: SUBJECT TO AMENDMENTS AND STYLE

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IV. House Bill No. 7189 on Instituting Flexible Learning in the Basic Education, by Rep. Villafuerte;
The House bill was sponsored by Dep. Spkr. Evelina Escudero and was consolidated with other house measures with the previously approved bill already authored by Rep. Escudero herself into the substitute bill.

STATUS: Approved

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V. Unnumbered Substitute Bill of House Bills Numbered House Bill No. 307, 3072, and 4978, authored by Reps. Salceda, Sy-Alvarado, Nieto, Romulo, Abueg-Zaldivar and Robes, titled: “AN ACT ESTABLISHING PUBLIC BASIC EDUCATION SCHOOLS IN GEOGRAPHICALLY ISOLATED AND DISADVANTAGED AND CONFLICT-AFFECTED AREAS (GIDCA), PROVIDING ACCESS ROADS LEADING TO LAST MILE SCHOOLS, AND APPROPRIATING FUNDS THEREFOR

Rep. France Castro inquired since she has some reservations about the bill’s provisions not in alignment with the bill’s title. Rep. Salceda answered her query and delivered her suggestions. Provisions concerning indigenous peoples were also took noticed by the representative from the National Commission on Indigenous People so that it will be in line following the law.
Rep. Castro also raised her concern about a bill concerning IPs–saying that application of for schools of IPs must not be hindered.

STATUS: APPROVAL OF THE SUBSTITUTE BILL AND SUBJECT FOR STYLE AND AMENDMENTS

COMMITTEE REPORT WILL BE PROVIDED

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VI. Other matters
-Issues about the reproduction of modules, out of pocket money were being used by the teachers due to lack of government concern (DepEd)
DepEd’s solution was to use the school Maintenance and other operating expenses
-Issues on the implementation of the classes on August 24 onwards
-Issues on SLMs and other related matters to it
– Issues on solicitation by the teachers because DepEd does not provide adequate assistance in many forms for the educators and learners

The Department of Education has yet to think of a policy and how its implementation will be done to address the above-mentioned issues. They however said that students enrolled would still have to comply with requirements that they will set, this comes despite new waters being tested for this kind of learning–which includes a blended mode of learning, TV and radio broadcasting, and modules delivery by mail. DepEd failed to address that some places were out of reach by the INTERNET and Data signal, what more of mail couriers. DepEd also said that modules will probably be delivered every week, without providing data and adequate facts earlier on how this set-up would go.
DepEd also has trouble when it comes to thinking of ways on how to address the solicitation issue that has been going on in the guise of Brigada Eskwela. Parents were already complaining that the pandemic had already hurt their finances and are already scrambling of ways to buy and find food, what more for the educational materials needed by their children.

Some lawmakers, such as Rep. Roman Romulo said that Learning competencies must be minimized to the bare minimum since the pandemic is hurting various stakeholders in the educational department, from the highest to the lowest level. DepEd replied that they have already reduced the learning competencies from a six-digit for the entire school year, to just almost 5,000–this cutting off of learning competencies would not have happened had DepEd recalibrated and consulted teachers, parents, and students with regards to the education’s sector plan for the continuance of learning while we are still under the grip of a deadly virus.

Lastly, DepEd will also report back to Congress soon–although not providing an exact date– about their review of the K-12 program of the government. #####

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