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On the State of Education

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Education spending is at its lowest especially under the Aquino administration, with the budget for education decreasing steadily from 17.4% in 2001 to 11.35% in 2011.

Based on the P207.27 billion Department of Education (DepEd) budget for 2011 and the 22.71 M school-age youth (age 6-15), the government spending for basic education per student per day, in real value, is P24.97. On the other hand, the per capita per day spending, also in real value, is P5.79.

This year, the Aquino government drastically slashed the budget of tertiary public schools. The allocation for SUCs in the 2011 national budget was reduced by 1.6 percent, from P23.8 billion in 2010 to only P22.03 billion this year. The P1 billion decrease was taken from the operations budget for SUCs. While there was zero (0) allocation of funds for the budget for capital outlay which is used for the procurement of new equipment/facilities and creation of new buildings.

This is very dismal and disappointing considering the fact that children have the right to an affordable and accessible education.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the International Commission on Education for the 21st century recommend that at least six (6) percent of a country’s gross domestic product (GDP) be allocated to education. Unfortunately, the education sector’s share only ranges from 2.5 to 3% of the GDP. This is drastically lower than our neighboring countries’ fund for education. For instance, Brunei allots 9.1% of its GDP for education while Malaysia allots 8.1% and Thailand gives 5.2%.

Apparently, the 2011 budget is NOT enough to address the shortages in classrooms, teachers and school facilities. Despite a nominal increase in the education budget, the 2011 education budget is still billions of pesos short from adequately addressing shortages.

Until now, our public schools still lack 152,000 classrooms, 95.5 million textbooks, 103,500 teachers, 13.5 million chairs, and 424,600 water and sanitation facilities, according to KabataanPartylist.

Despite DepEd declarations of providing solutions for back-to-school woes, classroom to student ratio in the National Capital Region (NCR) has reached a troubling 1: 85 while there is a student to textbook ratio of 3:1. There is also the problem of facilities which manifests itself in more cramped and multilevel classrooms, chairless classrooms, and even nonexistent toilets. Even teachers are facing troubles as they are greatly underpaid for all of their work.

Notwithstanding the many indicators that show the quality of education in the Philippines is deteriorating, the government continues to follow prescriptions from its foreign creditors to systematically reduce support for education, among other social services, in order to reduce the government's budget deficit while ensuring continued debt servicing which eats up the most monstrous share of the government's annual budget.
To reiterate my speech in the city council last month in time with the opening of classes last June 14, an expected 28 million enrolees from all over the country have trooped to schools, regardless of the perils and shortages they will face, all in the name of being able to go to school and have an education.

On top of my list as the newly installed Chairperson of the SP Committee on Education, Science and Technology, Cultures and Arts, is to conduct series of consultation with student sector on the proposed Magna Carta of Students, Magna Carta of Private Teachers and to continue to lobby for a moratorium on tuition fee increases and other fees being implemented by schools.

I will also continue the campaign for higher and adequate budget for education to address the perennial problems faced by schools, teachers and especially students and to strengthen consultations among and between public and private teachers.

At the same time sound the call to all concerned that much needs to be done to address the many issues and concerns hounding both our public and private school systems. Let us not waver in our commitment to the children of this country and ensure that they will not be deprived of their right to an education. (coun.leahlibrado@gmail.com)

By Councilor Leah Librado
Davao City




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