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presidentiables stand on improving philippine education

April 18, 2010 3 comments

THE COUNTRY’S spending for education as a percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) is shrinking compared with those of other countries in the region. Partly for this reason, the Philippines suffers from a shortage of classrooms even as participation rates deteriorate. The elementary-school participation rate dropped from 96.8 percent in school year 2000-2001 to 85.1 percent in 2008-2009, while the high-school participation rate slipped from 66.1 percent to 60.7 percent.

Academic performance in Science and Math among elementary and high school students remains dismal.

We can glean from the answers of the presidential candidates to the following questions how the next administration will address the challenge of improving Philippine education:

How will you arrest the declining school participation rates?

How will you solve the classroom shortage?

Will you increase the budget for education under your administration?

By how much?

How will you improve the quality of education in the country?
Are you in favor of an additional year (a total of 11 years—7 years elementary and 4 years high school) for basic education? Why? Why not?
What about teachers’ salaries?

Benigno Aquino III
Liberal Party

ONE OF THE REASONS FOR the decline in school participation is the poor health of pupils. The health program must be supplemented by a feeding program. But where do you get the money?

You build 40,000 schools or enroll about a million students in private schools. If you enroll the same class in a private school instead of building classrooms, chairs or blackboards the price difference is P100,000 per classroom, which can fund the feeding program.

The facilities are already there and the private schools become your partner in taking care of the overhead.

The ideal education budget is 5 percent (of GDP) but we are only around 3 percent today.

Before I spend money, I’ll make sure that I already have it. We’re targeting to increase the tax effort by 2 percentage points or about P150 billion, depending on the deficit that will be bequeathed to us.

And then you have P280 billion lost to corruption, which could have been used for policies, programs and projects.

Increasing the number of school years is also our position. The 10-year program is compounded by the fact that we have ‘‘shifting.” What was once eight hours a day of classes is now down to four hours.

And then the students are hard-pressed. I asked education officials during the budget hearings in the Senate because it was said that science and health concepts were being discussed [in the same period]. Does that mean they tackle three subjects in one sitting?

“Do [students] have this book called ‘English for You and Me?’ ” I asked. “Yes,” they replied. “Do you do this every year?” I said. “No, every five years,” they said. “How come after five years, you still come up with a book that has 500 errors?” I asked. They never gave a good answer.

On teachers’ salaries, we have the Salary Standardization Law-3 which the chief executive has to implement. At the same time, for the entire bureaucracy, you want the concept of meritocracy to be the prevailing mode governing promotion and increases. Interview by Philip Tubeza

JC de los Reyes
Ang Kapatiran

IMPROVEMENT IN EDUCATION as well as in the delivery of other basic public services rests largely on eradicating graft in government. This way more funds can be made available to address the need for more classrooms, teachers, books, an increase in teachers salaries, and more state universities.

Theodore Roosevelt said: “To educate a man in mind and not in morals is to educate a menace to society.” Hence, the Ang Kapatiran shall:

Build a nation of character and promote the integral development and total well-being of all Filipinos through values formation.

Discourage the glorification of sex and violence, pornography, dishonesty, vice, materialism and hedonism, and replace them with structures of virtue, peace, responsibility and achievement.

Actively promote responsible parenthood and natural family planning.

Encourage media to foster values that contribute to the formation of a national commitment that is maka-Diyos, maka-buhay, maka-bayan at maka-tao.

Promote the culture of life, peace, active nonviolence and progressive disarmament.

Declare as contrary to public policy, morals and interest, good customs and the common good the glorification of the culture of death and violence.

Enhance investments in human resource development, especially by strengthening education in the sciences, mathematics, engineering and English. Interview by Jerome Aning

Joseph Estrada
Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino

CHILDREN STOP GOING TO school because of hunger. We have to ensure that there is enough food for our people.

Doesn’t the Department of Education have a feeding program? They give instant noodles to the children. But even the money for the noodles is stolen. It still boils down to food security and addressing corruption.

We will use the military’s engineering corps to help build classrooms, and give more freedom to women to plan their own family size.

Of course (I will raise the education budget). I gave the biggest per capita budget to education. You can check the records. During the first week of my administration, I raised the allowance of teachers.

I’m in favor of an additional year. The disparity between the rich and the poor continues to grow. The rich families are able to send their children to nursery, kindergarten. The children of the poor go directly to Grade 1. The children of the poor have no chance of competing. In San Juan (when I was mayor), I put up daycare centers that provided free preschool education to the children of the poor. Interview by Norman Bordadora

Richard Gordon
Bagumbayan

WE ARE GOING TO MAKE sure that our children will get the best in education. I want to attract better teachers by raising the monthly salary to P40,000. I want our children to get Kindle (a device that can store electronic versions of books and other references) in schools instead of error-ridden textbooks.

I will get the needed funds for these by imposing a 50-centavo tax on text. If we impose a tax on some 2 billion text messages sent every day, we can raise P365 billion in one year. That is the contribution of every Filipino, rich and poor, so that my maid’s son can have the same education as what my grandchildren have.

I will also subsidize the salaries of private schoolteachers as long as they show a good record. The fund will be administered by a health and education acceleration program. It is not really a tax but our contribution to education and health. If people discover that the text money goes to improve education, I’m sure they will text more.

I will use the P170 billion originally allocated to education (in the national budget) in improving classrooms and health. We will address the shortage of classrooms. This budget will also cover food in schools.

I agree to adding two years to basic education but not immediately because we will need more budget for that. But I’d like to do it within my first three years as President, especially if our tax on text will be successful.Interview by Edson C. Tandoc Jr.

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