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Gatchalian seeks to strengthen local school boards as gov’t eyes ‘full devolution’ in 2022

PASAY CITY -- With the national government set to fully devolve basic services and facilities to local government units (LGUs) in 2022, Senator Win Gatchalian says local school boards should be strengthened in their capacity to deliver educational programs and services.

Executive Order No. 138, which was signed earlier this year, called for the full devolution of certain functions of the Executive Branch to LGUs. This is in light of the Mandanas Ruling in 2018, where the Supreme Court held that all collections of national taxes, not just those collected by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), should be included in the computation of the base of the just share of LGUs.

For Gatchalian, strengthening local school boards complements the full devolution of government services to LGUs. Last year, Gatchalian filed Senate Bill No. 1579 or the 21st Century School Boards Act. The proposed measure seeks to amend Republic Act No. 7160 or the Local Government Code of 1991 to increase the functions of the local school boards and ensure broader representation among different sectors and stakeholders.

“Nitong panahon ng pandemya, nakita natin ang mahalagang papel ng mga LGUs sa pagpapatuloy ng edukasyon. Ngayong papalawigin na ang mga serbisyong ihahatid ng mga LGU, napapanahon din ang pagpapatatag natin sa mga local school boards upang maging mas mabisa ang paghahatid at pag-angat sa kalidad ng edukasyon,” said Gatchalian, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture.

Under his proposed measure, local school boards will be mandated to introduce interventions for continued learning delivery in times of calamities and emergencies that disrupt classes.

The bill also proposes to expand the use of the Special Education Fund (SEF) to cover salaries of public elementary and high school teachers, non-teaching, utility, and security personnel. It also covers salaries of pre-school teachers, capital outlay for pre-schools, operation and maintenance of Alternative Learning System (ALS) programs, distance education classes and training programs.

Local school boards will also be mandated to formulate reforms whose success metrics will include participation rate of students, the number of dropouts and out-of-school youth, and achievement scores in national tests and other assessments, among others. (OSWG)

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Kate Shiene Austria

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