Press Release
March 12, 2016

If we can subsidize MRT riders, why can't we buy bikes for kids
in far-flung schools? - Recto

Because lack of transportation or high fares is a leading cause of school absences, government must include bicycles for poor kids in its education shopping cart, Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto said today.

Recto said there is already funding for the purchase of "bancas and bicycles" for students and teachers in hard-to-reach schools this year, "but the next administration should expand this program."

Recto said purchasing a bicycle for a student who walks five kilometers to school a day would still cost less than the annual subsidy taxpayers give to a regular MRT rider - which was last pegged by transport officials at P40 per trip.

Under the Department of Education's (DepEd) "pedals and paddles" project, the agency will bankroll the purchase of "small boats, motorized boats, and bicycles," Recto said.

In its 2016 budget briefer, DepEd said it will spend up to P10,000 for a small boat that can accommodate three to five kids and up to P50,000 for a motorized banca that can ferry 15 to 20.

It will also spend up to P3,000 for a refurbished bicycle, Recto said, quoting the DepEd proposal.

Both programs are under the agency's "last-mile learners" initiatives which also target schools in hard-to-reach areas and those not connected to energy grids.

Recto welcomed DepEd's "novel idea as an effective deterrent to school absenteeism brought about by transportation barriers."

In his first term in the Senate, Recto had already proposed a Bike-for-School program that will be given to indigent students living far from school.

He said grantees can even amortize the bikes in easy "rent-to-own" terms. "It will have multiple uses because if the father is a farmer, he can use it to ferry his backyard produce to the market during weekends."

"A bike is fuel-free, easy to maintain, promotes exercise, a green vehicle, and a tool for literacy." Recto said.

He said surveys had tagged high transportation and long commutes as reasons for fluctuating school attendance and triggers for dropping out.

"Kung sa ngayon, P12 ang pamasahe one-way, at dalawang magkapatid sasakay in tandem, then that's P48 saved a day or about P1,000 a month. On a 10-month school calendar, that's P10,000 a year," he said.

In the case of riverine communities where waterways serve as highways, Recto said the lack of boats prevent children from attending school regularly.

"Pero lupa man o tubig ang dadaanan, kahit may pagkaing baon na ang bata pero kung wala namang pamasahe or walang masakyan, paano siya makakapasok?" the senator lamented.

"The use of these bikes and bancas must be linked to school attendance. If you ride, you must do well in school. This is another form of CCT--Conditional Communal Transport," he added.

Recto batted for more funds for the "paddles and pedals" program to allow "DepEd to match the equity provided by its NGO partners."

In the case of boats, DepEd's collaborator is the Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation while the Bikes for the Philippines is its partner in the bike program.

With the help of these "admirable NGOs," the "Pedals and Paddles Project" aims to provide 35,734 bikes and 1,216 boats to learners in far-flung and hard-to-reach areas, Recto said.

"I think we should increase at least by ten times the target for bikes. At 350,000, one and half percent lang yan ng total DepEd enrolees," he said.

DepEd's 2016 outlay is P411.4 billion, of which P59.1 billion is in Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE) and P99 billion is for Capital Outlays.

News Latest News Feed