THE Department of Education (DepEd) requested the Senate to realign its P150 million confidential and intelligence funds to its National Learning Recovery Program, according to its spokesman.

The Senate approved on Thursday the DepEd's P758.6 billion budget for 2024.

In a television interview on Friday, Michael Wesley Poa said the funds were initially allocated to the private school voucher program and that the DepEd is now requesting that they be used for the NLRP instead.

"Right now, we in the Department of Education are focusing on learning recovery. That is why we requested that if there are any realignments to be made, this be given to the National Learning Recovery Program," Poa said in English and Filipino.

The components of the NLRP include national programs on reading, mathematics, science and technology, as well as the National Learning Camp launched this year.

The National Learning Camp offers voluntary remedial and enhancement programs to students during the school break, Poa said.

"These are the steps that we are taking... and we are hoping that with these programs, we would like to improve our performance in assessments," Poa said.

Poa also said that the decision by Vice President Sara Duterte to let go of her confidential and intelligence funds was not made on the day of the Senate hearing itself, noting that they originally proposed these funds for "specific purposes," including the prevention of criminal activities in schools.

Poa said, however, that "when the issue of the confidential funds got out of hand, and the vice president saw that it had become divisive, she swore an oath to keep the country peaceful and strong, and because of that, she made the decision to give up the funds."

He added that Duterte "studied carefully" what was happening to the country due to the discussions on the confidential funds.

Meanwhile, Poa said that the DepEd will issue an order reiterating the no-collection policy in public schools after Sen. Rafael "Raffy" Tulfo claimed that there were some parent-teacher associations that have required the payment of certain fees such as for electric fans, salaries of security guards and even utility bills.

Poa said that while schools have been allocated funds for maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE), he admitted there would be some "fiscal restrictions" regarding its use.

He said this was why they allow some parents and partners to donate or contribute willingly to the upkeep of schools.

Poa asked, however, if the parent fails to contribute, "will the child be affected?"

"Whatever contributions the PTA makes, it does not have any connection to the performance and grading of the child," Poa said.

Poa also said that the DepEd also tapped the Philippine Institute for Development Studies to conduct a third-party assessment of the current pilot trial of the Matatag K to 10 curriculum to study possible adjustments before its full implementation next year.

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