Press Release
October 22, 2016

Bill raising teacher's 'chalk allowance' to P3,500 now on Senate floor It will be approved before the end of the year - Recto

The Senate has started floor debates on a bill more than doubling the public school teacher's yearly "chalk allowance" from P1,500 to P3,500.

Sponsored on the floor last Wednesday, October 19, was Senate bill 812, which raises to P3,500 annually what is officially known as the "teaching supplies allowance."

Authored by Senate Minority Leader Ralph Recto, the bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Civil Service chaired by fellow minority Senator Sonny Trillanes.

It was Trillanes and Recto who delivered the bill's sponsorship speeches. Another similar measure was filed by Senator Win Gatchalian.

In his co-sponsorship speech, Recto said, "like anything written on the blackboard, we can erase and change the amount of our teachers' 'chalk allowance.'"

The allowance is given to teachers at the start of the school year for the purchase of "chalk, pens, erasers, paper and other school supplies" they use in teaching.

Recto lamented that the present allocation of P1,500 translates into a "measly P7 daily budget" based on a 202-day academic year.

Increasing the allowance, Recto pointed out, would allow teachers "to expand their shopping list, to include computer and Internet-use supplies, like USBs and even occasional 'load' for online research."

"In this digital age, there are computer-related supplies the teacher uses, and these must be considered in computing the supplies they need," Recto said.

Recto conceded that even the proposed P3,500 is not enough. "I agree that it won't personally enrich the teachers but it will somehow enrich the way they teach."

But what is important, he stressed, "is that the embargo in adjusting the chalk allowance is lifted by congressional initiative because if it will be left to the executive to set the rate, it will remain the same."

Recto recalled that the current P1,500 rate was the result of the amendment to the national budget he and then Senate Finance Committee chair Senator Chiz Escudero made in 2014.

He said the chalk allowance "is an overlooked item in an era when we are easily dazzled by the billions of pesos for agencies in three-trillion-peso budgets."

"It may be a mere speck in the budget but it cannot be dismissed as unimportant. Chalks, and pens, papers and cartolinas are to teachers as what bullets and combat rations are to soldiers," Recto stressed.

"In the war against illiteracy, these are the ammos our teachers use," he said.

Recto said increasing the chalk allowance to P3,500 will cost P2.78 billion, based on the 2017 Department of Education (DepEd) teaching workforce of 797,119.

Because P1.195 billion is already in the 2017 budget, the additional fund needed is about P1.59 billion, he explained.

Under the Recto-Trillanes bill, P1,500 will be appropriated in the DepEd budget, and the P2,000 will be shouldered by PAGCOR.

"You can call it a chip-for-chalk swap. I call such an arrangement a winning combination," Recto said.

In calling on his colleagues to approve the measure, Recto said "as chalk writings are erasable, so are the rules that peg the amount for chalk allowance."

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