Unlocking value for schools through Budgets (Day 5)by Rey Laguda
(This is the DepEd USec Rey Laguda's Day 5 of 50-day journey being serialized here with his permission, culled from his Facebook account. - Blogger/owner)
Public schools are fully funded by the Department of Education for its basic requirements. But there is also support that schools get from local government units through the Special Education Fund (SEF) and through private donations from individuals and groups.
Let me focus on school MOOE though since this is the fund which is available for use by the Principal for its expenses in school. In this administration, the school MOOE has at least doubled from 2010 to 2016 for both elementary and high schools which now amounts to more than P18 billion for 2016. A separate amount for chalk allowance/supplies is provided to all teachers.
One might argue that it was really insufficient to begin with and had nowhere to go but up. That is true. It is also true, that arguing for such increases required political will and also trust for Congress to believe that DepEd can properly utilize these funds. It important that with the increase of funds, proper mechanisms for accountability, transparency and effective management of funds were also created and maintaned to complement it.
DepEd recently issued a new set of guidelines governing the use of the school MOOE, which is contained in DepED Order 13, s2016. The said order defines what the school MOOE may be spent on. Moreover, there are also reporting requirements indicated. As part of the compliance to RA 9485 or the Anti-Red Tape Act of 2007, a transparency board is required of all schools where work and financial reports are required for public posting. We have further expanded this reportorial requirement to include:
1. Declare and report all sources of funds (Local Government support, private donations, canteen revenues, facilities rental, etc.)
2. Outline the intended utilization for each fund source including timing of utilization and must be consistent with the School Improvement Plan
3. Conform to Procurement Law (RA 9184) and to include in the report all suppliers and pertinent details of procurement made
4. Post such reports in the transparency board and update every three months
5. Present and report to stakeholders - faculty, parents, local community officials and other relevant groups
The school MOOE is also posted on our website for the reference of all interested stakeholders. With these measures in place, it is envisioned that schools comply and stakeholders also demand from the schools such compliance.
Public accountability complemented with active citizen engagement can yield positive, tangible and relevant results for the learners, schools and their communities.
In 2013, DBM approved the creation and filling up of 3000 bookkeeper items that have been deployed to all divisions and serve as disbursing officers for elementary and high schools that don't have their own staff. This removes the unnecessary burden from teachers and principals who would otherwise take on additional roles.
The ongoing training of principals now includes a module on proper financial management to provide skills in basic bookkeeping, planning and budgeting, and reporting.
In summary, it is not enough to just increase budgets. This must be supported by creating the right environment for transparency, ensuring accountability, building the capacity of personnel (on budgeting, planning, utilization, reporting), and actively engaging stakeholders as monitors. The pursuit of reforms in education finance is an area that could be part of the next wave of reforms for better management of schools in meeting its education outcomes.
So the next time you get the chance to visit one of our public schools, do ask about their school MOOE and look at their transparency board.
For the DO 13, s2016, go to http://www.deped.gov.ph/…/defa…/files/order/2016/DO_s2016_13