Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto today called for a “1 book to 1 student” ratio in public schools, saying that a complete set of textbooks at home is needed by children to cope with online classes.

“Broadband learning does not cancel the need for books. On the contrary— it makes it imperative. Hindi ibig sabihin na dahil via internet na, wala nang instructional materials,” Recto said.

He added that while “internet speed is something beyond the powers of DepEd to cure, enough books is, however, something DepEd can provide, if given the resources.”

“If we can print money, why can’t we print books? The ones public school students are using cost as little as P50. Kung may perang pang transistor radios, dapat mayroon ding pang libro,” Recto said.

The senator, however, is concerned that the “national inventory of books” in public schools is not enough to meet the desired 1:1 book-to-learner ratio.

“Una, dahil suspended ang classes, nahihirapan ang mga estudyante na magsauli ng libro. Mababa ang retrieval rate,” Recto said.

Second, the printing of millions of new books, out of this year’s and previous years’ appropriations, may have been disrupted by the recent three-month long lockdown, Recto said.

Recto tagged as another culprit “the steady decline in Malacañang-requested appropriations for textbooks and instructional materials.”

This year’s budget for textbooks is P963 million, half of last year’s P1.8 billion, Recto said. “In 2015, it was P3.46 billion, P4.1 billion in 2016, P3 billion in 2017, P2.9 billion in 2018.”

“So from 81 million books delivered since 2016, the target volume to be distributed out of this year’s budget are 10.3 million textbooks and instructional materials,” Recto said.

“Yung budget ng DepEd, kinaltasan ng halos P8 billion at inialay sa laban sa Covid. Eh di ibalik yung parte nito para sa libro at mga programang kailangan ng 27.2 million na kabataang Pilipino para sa ‘blended education’ nila,” Recto said.

The senator also called for more funds to schools whose teachers are now printing on their own new modules for instruction under the new normal.