MANILA – The Department of Education's (DepEd) proposed budget of PHP852.8 billion does not include funding for its Special Education (SPED) program because some budget items may still be “realigned” and “modified” to accommodate it.
This was the response made by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) following backlash over zero funding for the learning needs of children with special needs.
The DepEd earlier clarified that it initially proposed a budget of PHP532 million for its SPED program, but it was “not considered in the National Expenditure Plan” despite its “earnest efforts” to advocate for learners with special needs.
“This is a recurring circumstance every year, and the DepEd is not at loss because we always work with members of the Congress to fund other ways to fund DepEd programs,” the DepEd said in a statement.
The DBM, which is in charge of preparing the NEP, confirmed the DepEd’s initial proposal but noted that it lacked documentation to justify funding for the SPED program.
“While the Department of Education proposed the retention of the line item for the purpose under the FY [fiscal year] 2023 National Expenditure Program, no sufficient documentation was provided to support the same, such as: details of the proposed amount with specific purposes, basis of computations/parameters, status of the ongoing conversion and establishment of Inclusive Learning Resource Centers funded under FY 2021 and FY 2022 GAA,” the DBM said in a separate statement.
As of June 30, 2022, the DBM said SPED program under the FY 2022 General Appropriations Act has an obligation rate of 1.13 percent, or only PHP6.35 million out of PHP560.202 million allocation.
The DBM said this funding provision will still be valid until Dec. 31, 2023.
The agency also said programs that need additional funding may still be realigned and modified by the DepEd.
“Please note that during budget execution, items may be realigned and modified by the implementing agency to accommodate the requirements of any program that is in dire need of additional resources,” the agency said.
The DBM pointed out that there is around PHP1.216 billion surplus for the Programs, Activities, Projects (PAP) - Operations of Schools - Elementary and Junior High Schools (JHS) under the DepEd’s Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE).
“We deemed that the program support or additional allocation for the smooth implementation of the SPED may already be accommodated within the same program, and that a separate budget for the purpose may no longer be necessary,” the DBM added.
The DBM assured that it puts “primacy” on the value of education of Filipino children with special needs.
“We give utmost importance in giving them access to quality education so that their unique needs are adequately addressed. We believe that it is in supporting their needs that we are contributing to the holistic growth of our children,” the agency said. (PNA)