Senate Minority Leader Ralph Recto is prodding the Duterte administration to “bring to the Internet age” the public school teacher’s annual “chalk allowance,” by increasing it from P1,500 to P5,000 annually.
“Chalk allowance” is the popular term for the cash given to teachers at the start of the school year for the purchase of “chalk, pens, erasers, paper and other school supplies” they use in teaching.
Recto said the present allocation of P1,500 translates into a “measly P7 daily budget” per teacher for classroom teaching supplies.
The 2017 national budget retains the amount, Recto said.
Increasing the “Teaching Supplies Allowance” to P5,000 annually, Recto pointed out, would allow teachers “to expand their shopping list, to include computer and Internet-use supplies, like USBs and even an occasional ‘load’ for online research.”
School supplies no longer pertain to traditional ink, chalk and paper, Recto explained. “In this digitized age, there are computer-related supplies which the teacher uses, and these must be considered in computing the supplies the teacher needs.”
He likened teaching materials used by teachers to ammunition issued to soldiers. “If teachers are the frontliners in the war against illiteracy, then they must be given enough supplies to perform their mission.”
Recto said the P1.1 billion chalk allowance allocation for 770,656 classroom teachers accounts for a “tiny one-fifth of one percent” of the Department of Education’s (DepEd) proposed P566.2 billion budget for 2017.
Increasing a teacher’s chalk allowance to P5,000 would require an additional P2.7 billion, Recto said. “It is affordable and the resulting total allocation of P3.8 billion will just be two-thirds of one percent of the DepEd budget.”
Recto has filed Senate Bill No. 812, which seeks to institutionalize periodic increases in the Teaching Supplies Allowance.
To achieve this, his bill tasks the Secretary of Education “to conduct a periodic review of the Teaching Supplies Allowance, and, if warranted, recommend the necessary increase in the amount of the allowance.”
In the bill’s explanatory note, Recto assailed the 7-peso subsidy per day as “insufficient in assisting classroom teachers to deliver informative lectures and stimulating class discussions to the country’s 21 million public school students.”
While Recto had pegged a P3,000 floor amount for the chalk allowance in the bill, he said that a review of the education budget for 2017 justifies “the necessity and feasibility” of raising it to P5,000.
It will be recalled that the current P1,500 chalk allowance was the result of the joint amendment in the 2015 national budget by Recto and then Senate finance committee chair Senator Chiz Escudero.
The Aquino administration had proposed an amount of P1,000 but which was later successfully raised to P1,500 by Recto and Escudero.
“It is time for the next installment of increase,” Recto said.
Click here to download Senate Bill No. 812