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Senator Calls for Streamlined Procurement to Address Public School Textbook Shortage

Manila - A significant push to streamline the procurement process for public school textbooks is underway, aiming to ensure that every student has access to necessary learning materials. This initiative emerges in response to a report highlighting the ongoing scarcity of textbooks in public schools, a situation that threatens the quality of education for young Filipinos.

According to Philippines News Agency, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian emphasized the critical findings of the Second Congressional Commission on Education (EDCOM II), which detailed the extent of the textbook shortage. The report by EDCOM II revealed that, since the introduction of the K to 12 curriculum in the 2012-2013 academic year, procurement has been limited to only 27 textbooks for Kindergarten through Grade 10, with purchases made exclusively for Grades 5 and 6 during this period.

The report also disclosed financial allocations for textbooks and instructional materials from 2018 to 2022, totaling PHP12.6 billion. However, only 35.3 percent (PHP4.5 billion) of this budget was obligated, and a mere 7.5 percent (PHP952 million) was actually disbursed.

In addition to traditional textbooks, Vice President and Department of Education Secretary Sara Z. Duterte, in her Basic Education Report 2024 delivered in January, announced plans to incorporate e-textbooks as a complementary resource. This move aims to harness digital technology to enhance the educational experience. The Department of Education has begun consultations with publishers to facilitate the availability of electronic textbooks.

Furthermore, the Department of Education has introduced "Catch-up Fridays" across public schools nationwide. This initiative is designed to bolster students' reading and writing abilities, addressing gaps in basic education skills.

Senator Gatchalian is set to propose an oversight review of the Book Publishing Industry Development Act. This review aims to evaluate the publishing industry's adaptation to digitalization and its ability to meet the educational sector's needs in this rapidly evolving landscape.