The Department of Education completes its financial assistance to differently-abled learners for school year 2012-2013 by releasing funds to secondary schools that offer special education (SPED) after releasing funds earlier to some 278 elementary SPED centers.
Education Secretary Armin Luistro said 153 secondary schools implementing the SPED program which submitted enrolment data shall be granted subsidy for the effective delivery of service to students with exceptionalities.
“When we say exceptionalities, we mean students who have difficulty learning because either they are visually or hearing- impaired, have autism or Down Syndrome or other learning disabilities and therefore need special educational attention,” explained Luistro.
Based on DepEd Order 98, schools that serve learners who have one exceptionality will receive a subsidy of P50, 000 for school year 2012-2013. Schools that cater to students with 2 exceptionalities will get P100, 000, 3 exceptionalities get P150, 000; 4 exceptionalities, P200,000 and five or more exceptionalities get P250,000.
The same order stipulates that the percentage of allotment shall not exceed 35% for the purchase of assistive devices and psychological/IQ tools. For the training and professional upgrading of teachers and school heads, travel expenses relative to participation/attendance to conferences, study visits, and other activities relevant to the implementation of the SPED program, the fund allotment shall not exceed 25%.
For the conduct of in-service training in the development of instructional materials and learning evaluation, fund allocation should not exceed 20%. Meanwhile, funding not exceeding 20% shall be earmarked for student development, leadership training, education visits and student participation in SPED-related activities.
Luistro reminds school heads that a liquidation report on the utilization of subsidy as well as enrolment report should be submitted to DepEd’s Bureau of Secondary Education.
“I want strict compliance on this as part of transparency and accountability among our personnel,” added the education chief.
The country’s 276 recognized Special Education Centers continue to receive subsidy from the Department of Education to enable these schools to deliver quality educational services to children with special learning needs.
Education Secretary Armin Luistro said DepEd is now on its third year of providing financial subsidy to SPED Centers which this year amounts to P115 million. “The amount we are providing to each SPED Center is proportionate to the number of enrollees and the exceptionalities being served in a particular center.
Luistro added that DepEd has set aside specific allocation on the kind of intervention/activity where the subsidy will be used.
For pupil development activities, training, educational visits, camp activities, sports and pupil participation in SPED-related activities, 30% from the allotment will be set aside.
Moreover, DepEd will earmark 25% for the procurement of assistive technology devices like Perkins Brailler, Braille display, speech synthesizer, canes, magnifiers, writing slate and stylus, abacus, Job Access with Speech program (JAWS), computer, sports, musical instruments, speech trainer, vestibular balls, sensory integration materials, early stimulation devices, adapted PE apparatuses, sewing machines, stove, cooking wares and carpentry tools for the work centers/transition program.
On the other hand, 25% is for the procurement of instructional and reference materials, psychological tests, early intervention materials and science manipulative materials.
The remaining 20% is for the professional upgrading of teachers and school heads and travel expenses relative to their participation/attendance to activities relevant to the implementation of the program, training of classroom parent aides, availment of services of allied personnel such as psychologist, occupational, physical, speech and behavioral therapists.
“These efforts are geared towards creating an environment for inclusive education. This means opening all the avenues of learning to all kinds of learners,” Luistro explained.
The Philippines, through the Department of Education is one of the signatories to the United Nations-initiated Millennium Development Goals of which Education For All by 2015 is one of the goals.
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The Department of Education has made preparations for the opening of schools today in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan City after the Christmas break and in the aftermath of typhoon Sendong which devastated a big swatch of Northern Mindanao.
Education Secretary Br. Armin A. Luistro FSC said however that some schools will not hold regular classes yet but instead use alternative delivery mode of lessons. In some schools, school heads will focus more on stress debriefing and play therapy in affected divisions. “We have to respond to the immediate needs of both teachers and students and for now, it is important that we introduce activities that will bring back normalcy in their lives,” the education chief said.
He added that DepEd is now making the final list of schools being used as evacuation centers. “We have agreed with our counterparts in the Department of Social Welfare and Development that if our schools are still needed by evacuees we will hold classes in temporary learning spaces including the use of tents provided by UNICEF, Plan International and Save the Children, among others. While there are shortages in tents, donations are still coming in.”
DepEd has also expressed its appreciation to parents, military, police, students, non-government organizations and evacuees themselves for helping in the cleanup of schools in order to prepare them for the holding of classes. ”What we see here is an off-season Brigada Eskwela where every concerned citizen pitches in to bring back order in schools and in the community.”
Meanwhile, Bishop Antonio Ledesma of Cagayan de Oro has offered his parish for temporary relocation while the Jesuit-run Xavier University said it has five hectares in Lumbia also for relocation. For its part, the local government of Cagayan de Oro has made available another 3. 5 hectares as relocation site.
“This is a welcome development and slowly, internally-displaced residents are moving on to rebuild lives in relocation sites,” said Luistro.
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The Department of Education is gratified and challenged by the priority and confidence given to its programs and projects by the President, Congress, and the people, as embodied in the recently enacted 2012 budget.
Congress has increased DepEd budget from P207 billion in 2011 to P238.8 billion in 2012.
Education Secretary Armin Luistro said DepEd is gearing up to prepare the Philippine educational system for the eventual roll out of the K to 12 program as Congress approved a 15% hike in its 2012 budget.
“DepEd intends to address the current requirements and shortages in the next two years so that it can focus its resources in latter years towards addressing the significant resource requirements for the full implementation of K to 12 in 2016,” Luistro added.
Luistro explained that while the requirements to meet the challenges in education are huge, the 15% increase in the 2012 budget sustains the Aquino government’s continuing commitment to do more to improve the quality of learning in Philippine schools, and prepare the youth for a better future.
The increased budget will allow DepEd to build more classrooms and hire additional teachers, among other critical needs.
DepEd Undersecretary for Finance and Administration Francisco Varela said the DepEd will work on the prompt delivery of its education programs and projects while improving mechanisms to ensure that scarce public resources are efficiently utilized in a manner that conforms to high standards of governance and transparency.
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Public school teachers have started getting their Productivity Enhancement Incentive (PEI) as the Department of Education (DepEd) continues to monitor its regional offices nationwide to ensure that teachers receive theirs in time for the holiday season. The P10,000 PEI is commonly referred to as the Christmas bonus.
“As soon as we got approval from the Department of Budget and Management, our disbursing officers have started the processing of fund release. We had our implementing units prepare the required documents so when the funds are available, we can fast track payment to our teachers and personnel” said Education Secretary Armin Luistro.
The education chief said that the department hopes to complete the release of the Christmas bonus to all teachers before Christmas day if no major hitch comes up.
As of December 15, Regions 1, 2, and 7 reported that all teachers in their respective regions have received their bonuses. Bicol Region (Region 5) has paid 95% of its teachers while 90% of teachers in Metro Manila (NCR) have already received their bonuses.
Release of payments to teachers are still on-going in Regions 3, 5, 6, 9, 10, Caraga, the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) and the National Capital Region (NCR).
Meanwhile Regions 4A, 4B, 8, 11, and 12 are processing the fund transfers and aim to pay teachers on Friday, December 16 or early next week. They received their cash allocations on Tuesday, December 13 while others received it the following day.
The DepEd in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao is independently monitoring the progress of their payments.
“We are doing a round-the-clock monitoring in DepEd offices nationwide so that we can respond promptly in case there are delays in some areas,” Luistro pointed out.
Teachers Dignity Coalition Chairperson Benjo Basas earlier expressed their thanks to DepEd and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) for the early release of the bonus and urged both agencies to do all they can to pay all teachers within the week.
Funds are transferred directly from DBM Regional Offices to DepEd’s implementing units. These are the central, regional, and division offices and some secondary schools that are authorized to manage funds released to them in accordance with DBM and Commission on Audit rules and regulations.
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Education Secretary Armin Luistro has inaugurated some P8 million-worth of education infrastructure in Zamboanga City as the department continues to engage the local government units in financing the construction of public school buildings.
Luistro said the funding allotment provided by city government of Zamboanga drawn from the Special Education Fund went to construct a two-storey school building with six classrooms and the rehabilitation of another two-storey building also with six classrooms in Talisayan Elementary School. The city government also financed the fencing of the school and the improvement of the existing fence as an added security measure.
“As partners in education, the local government units (LGUs) and DepEd can always find ways to address the perennial problem of classroom shortage through various means that are both creative, doable and within the legal parameters set by the government,” added Luistro.
City Mayor Celso Lobregat led the Zamboanga officials at the turn-over ceremony of the completed infrastructure project. The construction of the school building is considered a wise investment of the LGU because of the long-term positive effect of an educated citizenry in a community.
The use of special education fund (SEF) and counterparting are two of the most common ways of classroom construction being implemented by DepEd and the LGUs. Counterparting is a scheme where funds allocated by the LGU for classroom construction is matched by the department. “The idea here is to build schools where they are critically needed through cost sharing,” explained Luistro.
Over a year ago, school teacher Lorna Pulalon, student Angel Dorine Orpiano, and Ruben Flores were killed when an assailant stormed Talisayan Elementary School in October 2010. Pulalon died of multiple injuries as she used her body to shield her students. Orpiano and Flores were fatally wounded before the townsfolk got to the killer.
At the inaugural ceremony, Luistro and Lobregat joined the school community in remembering the tragedy that befell the school more than a year ago and paid tribute to teacher Pulalon who was recently named a Dangal ng Bayan awardee by the Civil Service Commission.
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The Department of Education, along with the Philippine Commission on Women and the Inter-Agency Council on Violence Against Women and their Children, joins the observance of the 18-day campaign to end violence against women (VAW) from November 25 to December 12.
The campaign focuses on information dissemination about VAW and how the victims and survivors of violence can seek assistance from government and non-government organizations.
Gender and Development lesson exemplars which also teaches equality between men and women is currently being incorporated in lessons among elementary and high school students in public schools.
“It is important that children learn at an early age that violence in any form is not acceptable more so if inflicted against women and children,” said Education Secretary Armin Luistro. He added that gender equality is integrated across subjects such as English, Filipino, Araling Panlipunan and even Mathematics.
Meanwhile, in observance of the week-long trafficking in persons (TIP), DepEd is also joining the awareness program of the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) from December 5 to 12.
The campaign aims to inform the community on the modus operandi of traffickers and educate young students on the issue because of their vulnerability to traffickers.
The information campaign will be via a 40-minute film showing during the Makabayan lesson or any equivalent subject in selected public schools across the country.
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In preparation for the conduct of the National Achievement Test (NAT) in March next year, the Department of Education will conduct a pre-NAT seminar workshop to set the rules on the administration of the NAT and to ensure the security of the test materials.
“We will conduct a seminar to be attended by division testing coordinators and private school supervisors for the smooth conduct of the test and put safeguards to ensure the integrity of the exam,” said Education Secretary Armin Luistro.
Among the key points to be discussed in the seminar workshop are: proper conduct of the test, security of test materials, delivery and retrieval schemes, as well as allocation of test materials.
NAT is given towards the end of each school year to gauge the academic performance in key subjects of elementary and secondary students in both public and private schools.
NAT is administered by DepEd’s National Education Testing and Research Center (NETRC). According to Dr. Nelia Benito of NETRC there will be some changes in the conduct of NAT next year in preparation for future enhancement of the basic education curriculum.
Benito said that NAT will be taken by fourth year high school students both in public and private schools instead of second year high school students.
“In next year’s NAT, fourth year high school students will take the exam to give us feedback on the students’ knowledge gain after the ten-year basic education cycle. The result will also be used as input for the K to 12 program,” explained Benito.
NAT will also be taken by Grade 3 pupils of public schools, Madrasah schools and pilot schools of mother tongue-based multi-lingual education.
Meanwhile, DepEd said it is inviting local education stakeholders such as the local government units, civic groups and non-government organizations to be part of the monitoring group to ensure the smooth conduct of NAT next year.
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The Department of Education has released guidelines on the use of funds to develop learning materials for schools offering mother-tongue-based multilingual education (MTB-MLE).
Mother tongue-based education prescribes the use of the language learners speak at home in delivering lessons and in classroom discussions. MTB-MLE is implemented from pre-school up to Grade 3 and in the alternative learning system.
Education Secretary Armin Luistro said “producing educational materials that suit the specific needs of learners will result to better learning outcomes.”
Luistro explained that DepEd came up with the guideline to synchronize and decentralize the production of indigenized teaching and learning materials as well as in the monitoring and evaluation of the MTB-MLE.
Local and international studies show that the use of the learner’s mother tongue or the language used at home is the most effective medium of learning. “It is the easiest way for children to access the unfamiliar world of school learning,” Luistro explained.
Educators say that when the use of mother tongue is discarded in favor of an unfamiliar language upon the children’s entry into grade school, the learners lose interest in their studies because there is a disconnect in the language used at home and in school.
Based on DepEd Order 90, the types of learning materials to be developed are story books in big and small book formats; flash/activity cards using letters and numbers; basic sight words (grade level words and picture dictionary; and thematic picture chart for oral literacy.
The guidelines also specified that 50% of the allocated funds should go to the development and reproduction of the teaching and learning materials; 20% for monitoring and evaluation; 15% for research and 15% for transportation.
DepEd piloted the implementation of MTB-MLE in school year 2010-2011 in 879 public elementary schools nationwide. As of November 2011 some 2,288 field officials, non-government organizations, local government units, parent-teacher-community associations and teachers have been trained to ensure the effective integration of this initiative into the curriculum.
The languages used for instruction and learning under the MTB-MLE include Iloko, Pangasinense, Kalangoyan, Kapampangan, Sambal, Tagalog, Minangyan, Bikol, Hiligaynon, Aklanon, Cebuano, Waray-Waray, Chavacano, Yakan, T’Boli, Surigaonon, Adasen, Bunungan, In Laud, Maranao and Maguindanaon.
The Department of Education gives recognition to 144 public schools which displayed exemplary performance in mobilizing community participation for the Brigada Eskwela – an annual pre- school opening maintenance activity.
Education Secretary Armin Luistro said the Brigada Eskwela is a fine example of how various sectors of the community become one under the banner of education.
“I believe that when it comes to education, people are naturally moved to work as one,” added Luistro.
Brigada Eskwela is a school maintenance program that engages education stakeholders both in the government and the private sector to contribute their time, resources and effort to spruce up public schools before class opening.
This year, Brigada Eskwela generated over P1 billion worth of repair, construction and maintenance support, as well as volunteer services.
Based on performance monitoring and evaluation of 45,625 public schools nationwide, some 144 schools were identified as Best School Implementers of Brigada Eskwela this year. Of these exemplary schools, 70 are from Luzon, 30 are from Visayas and 44 schools are from Mindanao. These schools were formally recognized in ceremonies at the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas office in Manila.
Meanwhile, DepEd has elevated to the Brigada Eskwela Hall of Fame schools those which have sustained their accomplishments for three consecutive years. A total of 39 schools qualified for this award. They were singled out based on the scope of repair and maintenance work the schools have completed, the construction materials they have generated, volunteer man-days mobilized and over-all impact of the undertaking in the physical improvement of the schools.
Luistro gave the award together with BSP Monetary Board member Felipe Medalla and DepEd Assistant Secretary Reynaldo Laguda. The event was attended by some 700 LGU officials, Adopt-A-School program coordinators, school officials, parents, teachers and guests from the private sector.
The Department of Education acknowledges the commendation of a labor group which advocates the ban of asbestos in schools saying the department is continuously exhausting all means to ensure the safety of schools for learners and teachers.
The Associated Labor Union (ALU) has commended DepEd for its positive response to its call last month to remove asbestos-containing wire gauzes from public high schools, stopping further exposure of millions of students and teachers nationwide.
The discovery of a wire gauze used in schools, colleges and universities that contains 3 per cent Chrysotile asbestos lead to the call to phase out wire gauzes laden with cancer-causing asbestos mineral.
Asbestos is already banned in 54 countries due to its proven carcinogenic effect among people who get exposed to it.
“Part of our mandate is to ensure that the learning environment does not pose any kind of threat to the well-being of our students and school officials,” Education Secretary Armin Luistro said.
ALU has called the attention of Luistro to act swiftly on its call to save millions of students, teachers, non-teaching personnel and communities from primary and secondary exposure to the very dangerous asbestos dusts that cause cancer and other incurable diseases.
DepEd is currently taking the necessary steps toward the eventual phase out of the use of wire gauze and other school equipment that may be found laden with the hazardous mineral.
At the same time, it is also initiating efforts to explore safer alternatives for the asbestos-laden wire gauze. Luistro added that DepEd will be issuing a memorandum to all schools on the proper handling and disposal of wire gauzes.
“We have done the same in the case of mercury and mercury-laden gadgets and equipment, which is being phased out in all Philippine schools, including school clinics,” explained Luistro.