SENATE President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto is pushing for a bill raising the public school teacher’s “chalk allowance” to P10,000 a year.
The present rate of what is officially called “Teaching Supplies Allowance” is P3,500, which Recto said won’t buy teachers “a shopping cart of classroom supplies” that will last for a year.
“This translates into a measly P16 a day,” Recto said. “This is not enough in this age of internet when USBs, in addition to the traditional paper and writing materials, are now part of the teacher’s tool box.”
He said teachers need more supplies not only for teaching, “but to comply with the mountains and gigabytes of reports they have to submit.
“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.
“‘Chalk allowance’ is to teachers as what bullets are to soldiers,” Recto said. “And those waging the war against illiteracy need more of this ammo. Because at present, all of them dip into their meager salaries to buy the supplies they need for teaching.”
Recto described his proposal as “affordable amelioration” in the era of the mega-trillion annual budgets.
The Department of Education’s (DepEd) chalk allowance budget this year is P2.9 billion. Increasing the per teacher supplies allowance to P10,000, as what is sought by Recto’s bill, will require an additional P5.4 billion.
Compare this to the P17.2 billion travel expenses for the national government. “Mas makabuluhan pa ito kesa sa mga kung anu-anong lakbay-aral,” Recto said.
He said the P2.9 billion 2019 budget for teaching supplies, computed per student is about P0.50 per DepEd enrollee per day.
“Kulang talaga. Especially in this digital age, when IT-assisted learning is the norm, there are computer-and broadband-use related supplies needed, and these must be considered in computing the supplies the teacher needs,” Recto added.
Recto is upbeat on his bill being approved “as a separate measure, or it can even be incorporated into the national budget.”
“The Senate has a good record in providing additional funds for chalk allowance. ‘Yung mga dating Finance Committee Chairman tulad ni Senators Chiz Escudero at Loren Legarda, sinuportahan ang paulit-ulit kong panukala dito,” Recto said.