The Department of Education (DepEd) continues to make substantial investments in basic education through various programs for all Filipino learners.

Secretary of Education Armin Luistro underscored the department’s commitment to ensure that no learner shall be left behind. “Our mandate is to provide every Filipino child with access to quality education,” Luistro said. He added that DepEd’s programs have always been directed at promoting inclusive and learner-centered education for Filipinos.

In its mission to expand access to quality education, the Philippine government has enacted the Kinder Basic Education Act and the Enhanced Basic Education Act in February 2012 and May 2013, respectively. Since the institutionalization of the K to 12 program, DepEd has made strides in its implementation.

The introduction of universal kindergarten in 2011 led to the increase of kindergarten enrolees—from 1.64M in SY 2010-2011 to 2.29M in SY 2013-2014.

Following the implementation of kindergarten was the roll-out of enhanced curriculum for Grades 1 & 7 in SY 2012-2013, Grades 2 & 8 in SY 2013-2014, and Grades 3 & 9 in SY 2014-2015. The entire K to 12 curriculum has been completed in February 2014.

In 2012 and 2013, DepEd rolled out the SHS modeling program in 56 schools in different parts of the country to prepare for its full implementation in 2016 The selected schools offer four main tracks—Academic, Technical-Vocational, Sports, and Arts and Design. The pioneer batch of the SHS modeling programhas graduated in May 2014. At present, over 10,000 students are enrolled in DepEd’s senior high school (SHS) modeling program for SY 2013-2014.

In SY 2013-2014, DepEd also assisted more than 809,000 students in private schools under the Government Assistance for Students and Teachers in Private Education (GASTPE), a program wherein the government enables eligible students to pursue secondary schooling in private schools through the provision of a fixed annual subsidy to cover tuition and other school fees. The Department increased the subsidy for students in private schools outside Metro Manila—from P6,500 to P7,500. DepEd is targeting to increase its coverage this year with a total projected grantees of 995,000 representing 50% of students enrolled in private high schools.

DepEd also gives prime importance to Indigenous Peoples (IP) and Muslim learners. Through the Philippines’ Response to Indigenous Peoples and Muslim Education (PRIME) program, DepEd expanded access to education to more than 100,000 IP and Muslim learners in the last three years.

To further advance services for all Filipino learners, DepEd boosted its Information and Communications Technology (ICT) initiatives which include the mapping of schools and library hubs nationwide. Of the 46,603 public schools nationwide, 84% have already been mapped. Of the 9,855 registered public schools with libraries, around 9,000 have already been mapped while 153 of the 188 library hubs in the country have also been geolocated.

Together with local and international education partners and public school teachers, DepEd developed the Learning Resources Management and Development System (LRMDS), an online library containing downloadable and free teaching and learning materials. These learning materials are tied in with the curriculum to ensure relevance and appropriateness.

Luistro stressed that these ICT initiatives will help the Filipino learners have more access to relevant, up-to-date and quality education materials. “It also provides a database to our educators where they can derive their lesson from. These materials will assist them in their lesson plans, and may also give an array of contextualized classroom discussion,” he said.

To ensure that learner needs are met, DepEd has completely addressed the 2010 backlogs in textbooks and seats, attaining a 1:1 students to textbook, and student to school seat ratio in 2012. Moreover, DepEd has constructed 66,813 classrooms from 2010-2013, closing the 66,800 classroom backlog.

The Department has also created over 102,600 teacher items from fiscal year (FY) 2010-2013, which translated to around 25,000 new positions created every year. With this, DepEd has doubled the average number of teaching positions created in previous budget years.

Furthermore, DepEd targets to complete the ongoing construction and procurement of water and sanitation facilities by the end of the year.

Luistro said that DepEd remains steadfast in its commitment to enhance and transform basic education for all Filipinos.