SAVINGS. Members of the Ilocos Norte board on June 21 deliberate on the passage of an appropriation ordinance reverting a total of PHP60,006,186 from personal services savings for the purchase of supplementary learning materials for distribution to learners. These materials are meant to improve learners' reading comprehension. (Photo by Leilanie G. Adriano)

LAOAG CITY – The Ilocos Norte government will be using its savings from personnel services and unappropriated surplus worth PHP60 million to pay for supplementary learning materials to improve its learners' reading comprehension.

Vice Governor Cecilia Araneta-Marcos said in an interview Wednesday the Ilocos Norte board unanimously approved the appropriation ordinance on Tuesday after Governor Matthew Joseph Manotoc certified it as urgent.

“We are putting a premium on education in the province, hence, the need to buy these supplementary materials for our Grade schoolers,” said Marcos, citing an earlier report that the Philippines scored the lowest among the 79 participating countries in reading comprehension.

The vice governor was referring to the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) released in 2019 which showed that the Philippines also placed the second-lowest in mathematics.

In response, the Ilocos Norte government planned to buy more supplementary learning materials in English and Mathematics to be turned over to different public schools in the province.

This is apart from the distribution of tablets and other Information and Communications Technology equipment to boost learners’ competitiveness in public schools.

Prior to the approval of the appropriation ordinance, provincial board member Da Vinci Crisostomo abstained from voting on the measure.

He said the province is still in a period of pandemic and there are undermanned offices, particularly in healthcare, which also need to be prioritized.

“We need to be careful in appropriating our resources,” said Crisostomo as he reminded his colleagues to study further the measure even if it was certified as urgent.

But after a thorough discussion with the Local Finance Committee and after the provincial treasurer made an assurance that it has enough funds for any eventuality, Crisostomo eventually reconsidered his earlier motion and voted in favor of the ordinance, Marcos said. (PNA)