The Makati City government has announced it will be spending P3.3 billion for its Project FREE (Free Relevant and Excellent Education) and other major school activities and programs this year.
Under the administration of Mayor Abigail Binay, several items have been added to the free school gear and supplies distributed to public school students, which include Special Education learners and students in the Alternative Learning System.
“Educating the youth is the best way to prepare them for whatever challenges and obstacles they meet in life. Education is the great equalizer that gives our youth hope and a fighting chance at having a good future,” said Binay.
“Makati has always believed in teaching our people how to fish, and this is why we have chosen to arm our children with the best public education and supplemental learning that we can provide,” she added.
In line with her thrust of inclusivity, the city chief executive pushed for bigger investments in programs for the differently abled and students from poor families.
From P5 million in 2019, the budget for “Speed for SpEd,” a work immersion program for SpEd learners aged 18 and above, has increased by 71 percent to P8.5 million. For ALS, the budget has been raised to P10.1 million or 33.1 percent higher than P7.6 million in 2019.
At the college level, the city government has made a 557 percent increase in its allocation for the Testing, Admission and Scholarship Program of the city-run University of Makati, which now amounts to P15.7 million from only about P2.4 million last year.
“The new college scholarship program we offer at UMak aims to help poor but deserving students obtain a college degree and be empowered to prosper and lift their families out of poverty,” Mayor Binay said.
To date, Project FREE has been expanded to include a pair of rubber shoes, white socks, raincoats and boots, hooded jackets, emergency go kits, anti-dengue kits, dental hygiene kits and tumblers. The city has also earmarked P130 million for free educational field trips provided to the students, up by 30 percent from last year’s budget.
Other items given for free to public school students of Makati include school supplies such as notebooks, learning and teaching materials, pens, pencils from preschool to senior high school; school bags for kinder, SPED, and Grade 1 pupils; and black leather shoes and ready-to-wear school uniforms from preschool to senior high school.
The city also shoulders expenses for its public schools’ graduation rites and students’ insurance coverage, among others.
This year, the city government has allocated P200 million for its feeding program for public school students, which is double the 2019 budget for the program.
Other education-related budget allocations for the year include the P22.5-million stipend for Makati Science High School students, P26.8-million budget for Gawad Parangal in recognition of honor graduates, and P4.5-million assistance to SpEd learners.
For its programs and operations this year, UMak has an approved budget of P759.9 million. Its major allocations include P60.36 million for its Student Development Program; P24.3 million for Student
Resources Enhancement Program; P11.69 million for Educational Excellence Program; P6.7 million for
IT projects; and P2.97 million for the Makati Training Placement and Livelihood Consortia, among others.