DepEd denies having “cut” the SPED fund

The Department for Education (DepEd) said it was not deliberately excluding funding for programs for learners with disabilities in its 2023 budget proposal.

The DepEd also defended its “confidential funds” item listed in its budget.

The department said it initially allocated 532 million pesos for special education programs (SPED) in its proposed budget, ABS-CBN News reported.

“Unfortunately, despite our serious efforts to advocate for learners with special needs, [the proposed allocation] has not been factored into the National Expenditure Program (NEP),” the DepEd said.

The department originally requested over 800 billion pesos for 2023, but the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) allocated 710.6 billion pesos in the proposed NEP.

Reports indicate that education and infrastructure are the main components of the proposed national budget of 5.2 trillion pesos for 2023.

The cut led to zero funding for several projects and programs, such as engineering activities for basic education institutions, school health institutions and the SPED program, ABS-CBN News reported.

The lack of allocation for SPED “is a recurring circumstance every year,” DepEd said, adding that it would work with Congress “to find other ways” to fund the program.

DepEd spokesperson Michael Poa, quoted by ABS-CBN News, said the SPED program also had no allocation under the 2021 NEP, but was ultimately funded under the General Act. on credits (GAA).

The DepEd also defended the confidential spending of 150 million pesos under its 2023 budget proposal, saying such a post was “authorized for all civil offices” and had a legal basis under a joint circular. of 2015 published by the DBM.

The DBM meanwhile said that the budget proposed by the DepEd does not include its SPED program because some budget items may still be “realigned” and “modified”.

The DepEd earlier clarified that it initially proposed a budget of 532 million pesos for its SPED program, but that it was “not taken into account in the national spending plan” despite its “serious efforts” to defend learners with special needs.

The DBM, in charge of preparing the PNE, confirmed the initial DepEd proposal but noted that there was a lack of documentation to justify the financing of the SPED programme.

“While the Ministry of Education has proposed to retain the line item for this purpose as part of the exercise [fiscal year] National Expenditure Program 2023, no sufficient documentation was provided to support it, for example: details of proposed amount with specific targets, basis of calculations/parameters, status of ongoing conversion and creation 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 the SPED program under the General Appropriation Act for FY 2022 had an obligation rate of 1.13%, or only PHP 6.35 million on an allocation of 560.202 million PHP.

The DBM has stated that this funding provision will still be valid until December 31, 2023.

The agency also said programs requiring additional funding could still be realigned and modified by DepEd.

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